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post #42 of (permalink) Old 07-10-2012, 12:38 PM
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Jerry Lawler: Best Wrestler of the 1980s

So its no secret to a few on here that I hold Jerry Lawler on a very high mantle when it comes to workers. The man may not have been the most nimble of athletes, and the vast majority of his matches feature very little apart from big bumps, the greatest punches ever seen inside a pro wrestling ring, a red hot crowd and in some cases plenty of Heel Lawler schtick. Ever since more of his footage from the Memphis era has been circulated online his reputation as being one of the best to ever step inside the squared circle (as well as being an all time great promo man, having bundles of charisma and being a well documented great draw) has sky-rocketed to the point where many consider him amongst the elite group of US wrestlers from this era, such as Ric Flair, Ricky Steamboat, Stan Hansen, Terry Funk, Bob Backlund, Sgt Slaughter, Tully Blanchard, Dick Murdoch, Barry Windham and Bill Dundee.

Anyways, here's a collection of reviews from some of his more documented matches that I assembled in the old WWE Match/Show Discussion thread. I'm barely active in this forum anymore but I may try and watch more Lawler and add to this thread if it proves popular and I don't become overwhelmed with job hunting now that I've completed university. They're spoilered for length purposes (I like to ramble), but if you can wade your way through some of them I'm sure we can generate some good discussion about Lawler as well as the Memphis territory as a whole, which produced some infamous feuds, angles and matchs over the course of the 1980s.

1. Jerry Lawler v Harley Race, NWA Championship, CWA Memphis 12/10/1977

Spoiler for MATCH REVIEW:

Match that really doesn't get talked about amongst classic American wrestling but on first watch I'd say this match is right up there with many Flair broadways. Its incredibly physical and sluggish and definitely won't be to the tastes of your WORKRATE~ fans but if you love Jerry Lawler then I can see this being a favourite.

Match reminds me of Reed vs Flair Mid South in the opening stages as Lawler controls Race with a headlock spot and finds new ways to stop Race countering and its all very nice in building support for Lawler and making Race look like he's in for a rough night. Can't say Race does nearly as well in the role as a Dick Murdoch or Ric Flair would have done but he was perfectly fine in trying to work within the headlock and not simply rest for a few minutes.

Race is really strange in this match though. He's got some amazing headbutts which made me cringe at times and he works a few nice failed dropped headbutt spots before he finally connects with one that was a nice attempt at putting over the move. However he's pinballing in overdramatic bumping from the get go and whilst some of his bumps are really good a lot of them look really really stupid and sluggish and it really loses its effect compared to a guy like Murdoch leaving a lot of his bumps towards the end of the match which really puts over the match as a war. Lawler in comparison bumps really nicely for some kneedrops and headbutts but by the end of the match his bumping is much better in looking like he's out of breath and collapsing compared to Race.

Something I've noticed in Lawler matches as well is how he builds up simple spots really well. Here Race has 4 or 5 lovely headbutts to the midseection to stop Lawler's offence and when he goes for it again Lawler finally moves back and boots him in the face. Very simply worked and executed but something I dug a lot.

The ref is really a pile of dogshit for the most part and I loved one fan giving a 'the fuck was that' pose when he really messes up a false pinfall for Lawler. There was also one really awkward spot where Jerry was kneeling on Race's shoulders and the ref refused to count at all for an eternity which was strange as they didn't appear to be teasing that the ref was in anyway biased before this spot.

Still apart from some Race problems on his bumping as well as a part of the finishing run (wasn't as good in giving off the vibe that Lawler was about to win and truthfully came off more like Lawler would never have won on this night as opposed to Race scraping through a match he had no business winning) this is an excellent match in my book made by Lawler's amazing punches, a simple story early on built nicely to the finish with a good crowd and some lovely selling from Lawler between the opening bell and the finish.


2. Jerry Lawler vs Bill Dundee, Southern Heavyweight Championship, No DQ, Loser Leaves Town, Memphis 30/12/1985 (my candidate for best US match of all time, let alone the 1980s).

Spoiler for SPOILER:

Seen this match been pimped by the folks at DVDVR and other forums which have done a ballot/reviewed the Memphis set as an 80s MOTDC and something deserving to be praised alongsider Funk vs Flair, Flair vs Kerry Hawaii, Flair vs Windham, Flair (like seriously him again??) vs Steamboat, Murdoch vs Windham, Slaughter vs Sheik, Lawler vs Dundee 6/6/83, Slaughter & Kernodle vs Steamboat & Youngblood and you know what.....this match freaking comes as close as a match can to rivalling Flair vs Steamboat COTC and Flair vs Windham BOTB II as my 80s MOTD.

The pacing is perfect, the character clash between smug and cocky Bill 'Superstar' Dundee and hometown idol Jerry Lawler with only one good eye due to a prior sneak attack, the Mid South Coliseum is rocking, Dundee's wife is at ringside telling Lawler to fuck off and faces and heels are at ringside supporting their man. Its Clash of the freaking Titans and I'm still not doing the environment and setting justice.

Right from the get go Dundee puts in an incredible heel performance. Lawler does a sterling job pointing out to even the most retarded Memphis resident in the building sucking on moonshine that even Good Ol' King has his work cut out trying to win with ONE FUCKING EYE. Dundee throws some incredible punches, he corners Jerry and then casually strolls away like the biggest freaking prick in the universe and mockingly taunts Lawler to come to him. He ducks in and out, circles Lawler, strays away so he's out of Lawler's eyesight, he leans in offering his chin on a plate to Lawler and then ducks making Jerry look like a fool. Then he does it again and then has the cheek to punch Jerry whilst he's mocking him. FUCK BILL DUNDEE.

His assault is relentless. He punches Lawler repeatedly in his bandaged eye, tries to rip apart the bandages to gouge the eye and then boots Lawler square in the face after they tease Lawler making a comeback. The heat is incredible and Lawler is pulling out a Rocky esque performance. Even the WWE section would be cheering for the guy for christ sake. All of this heat control segment builds and builds with the occasional gorgeous headbutt thrown by Dundee which Lawler bumps for in oh so epic fashion before Lawler lands a right hand!!! Dundee spirals backwards and the crowd goes insane, the pacing has been delicious in building to that one shot from Lawler...but in an instant Dundee charges at Lawler and headbutts him with such force Dundee spirals out of the ring still selling the punch from Lawler. NOW I LOVE BILL DUNDEE.

Dundee girates to his wife that he has this in the bag, Lawler is scraping and trying to mount a comeback however possible and this crowd is demanding Dundee's ass be served on a platter. Eventually Dundee grows frustrated with Lawler's resilience and a commercial break sees them fighting on the outside and eventually into the stands. I lost my shit when Lawler follows Dundee who insists on leaving the arena and Lawler comes within striking distance of punching the bitch, 'he really wouldn't hit a woman would he? Even Memphis has its limits'....and sadly they do as Lawler ignores Dundee's wife and follows him instead (BOOOOOOOO). They fight into the stands and trade brutal punches before Dundee rocks Lawler with a combo and Lawler goes over the barrier to the concrete fall in one of the best bumps I have ever witnessed. Its fucking insane and probably inspired Foley to say 'you think that shit's cool I'll make an entire career making that look ordinary...GOD BLESS YOU MICK FOLEY).

Anyways Dundee drags the ref back to the ring determined to win by countout seeing as Lawler just fell 15 feet to friggin concrete. But then we get an insane moment as the camera pans back to the stands and LAWLER IS WALKING BACK!!!. Obvious 'lol wrestling logic' aside Lawler looks like freaking Godzilla about to crush Tokyo. His eye is bleeding profousely and HE IS PISSED. He gets back in the ring and all hell breaks loose. Punches and headbutts galore from both men, Lawler rocks Dundee with 4 insane punches and Dundee is bumping like Arn Anderson and Ric Flair combined, he's doing a 360 spin before collaping on his ass and its like even better than Lawler doing his Godzilla impression 30 seconds ago. Lawler also takes the time to eat a sickening ring post shot, it was disgusting even for this match but he will not be denied. He takes revenge on Dundee using Lawler's own fist drop from the second rope move and beats on Dundee unmercifully and rocks him with a few rights. Dundee retailiates and Lawler begs for more, the reaction is insane as Lawler looks deranged and wants more. Dundee gives it his all but Lawler pulls down the straps and BUSINESS IS ABOUT TO PICK UP.

More insane punches from Lawler as Dundee now looks to be moments from defeat, his confidence and swagger has diminished as a deranged man with an unhealty libido runs amok in a surprisingly clean Memphis ring, you get the feeling Lawler is that insane he'd defile Mrs Dundee in the ring post match. The crowd is itching for the piledriver......WHEN SOMEONE HANDS DUNDEE A FOREIGN OBJECT AND HE CLOCKS LAWLER OVER THE HEAD!!!!!

1........2.............................3!!!! Fucking Dundee has sent Lawler out of Memphis, the crowd is as silent as The Bukodan or the room after Mason Ryan someone passes another wellness test. Dundee celebrates with the belt like the biggest piece of shit ever. Its like if Apollo knocked Rocky out and then violated him with his own boxing glove. Dundee's just a grade A piece of horse shit and Lawler has been run out of town.

The match is sadly clipped by a few minutes and in the highlights we find out they clipped possibly the best piledriver Lawler has ever hit. I legit thought Dundee had died on impact. Jesus.

Yeah this was awesome, I'm tired so I'll just put you out of your wait:


3. Jerry Lawler vs Dutch Mantell, Southern Heavyweight Championship,Memphis, NO DQ, 22/03/1982

Spoiler for SPOILER:

Just a brilliant brilliant hate filled brawl between two all time great workers with great punches, epic bumping and marvellous pacing and subtle touches into their work. This match also features bar none the greatest transition spot in professional wrestling history.

Early goings on here is incredibly great. Lawler starts off like a house on fire exploding with punches and getting the better of Dutch, particularly in one awesome spot where Dutch ducks for a backdrop coming off of the ropes (aka the spot every wrestling fan hates for its stupidity) only for Lawler to jump back and boot Dutch square in the face. There's also a delicious exchange where Dutch goes to shake the hand of Lawler (this spot makes me believe there's a problem in the match order listing of their feud but enough of that for now) and Jerry just slaps the piss out of Dutch's mouth. Dutch is really great at the memphis bumping of Lawler's terrific punches and the whole opening has a real chaotic feeling of a bar fight where anything can happen.Dutch catching Lawler's boot only for Jerry to carefully regain his balance BEFORE hitting a freaking awesome enziguri was another nice spot that caught me completely off guard. Dutch also doing his best to try to avoid getting into it with Lawler because he's being dumped on his ass everytime was also a cool little running theme early on.

Now comes the greatest transition spot in history: Lawler throws a steel chair to Dutch's shoulder from the ring to the floor. Dutch picks up the chair, circles the ring before getting on the apron and lauching the chair across the freaking ring right into Lawler's left leg and knee. It looked freaking amazing for deadpoint accuracy and Lawler sold having his legs whipped from under him in an awesome manner. Dutch now senses blood and goes to town on Lawler with nice leg work and cheapshot punches and stomps to the body. He gives Jerry an amazing beating including numerous throws into the ring post (think it was the third one furthest away from the camera which Lawler seemed to fly into at an extremely dangerous pace), some beautiful punches to the face as well as a bodyslame on concrete, repeatedly smashing Lawler's face into the apron as well as my second favourite spot where Mantel just casually goes to the outside and brings in another chair and just straight up bounces it off of Jerry's skull and Lawler does this insanely great KO sell where his body hits the mat at a terrific pace and the impact is tremendous. Dutch taking the time to playfully slap Lawler in the side of the head on the floor as revenge for his slapping earlier was freaking immense and exactly the sort of 'subtle touch' I referred to earlier.

Lawler's manager next to Lance Russell is also terrific at giving this match a 'Rocky' vibe with him occasionally shouting words of encouragement to Lawler: "I've learned never to give up on Jerry Lawler", "come on Jerry, suck it up and FIGHT" which ties in beautifully to Lawler's bloody eyed comeback which includes some gorgeous punches even by Jerry Lawler's terrificly high standards and a lovely revenge spot with Dutch hitting the ring post (always love how Lawler employs the rule of threes spot in a lot of his matches).

The finishing run is also brilliant. Dutch grows incredibly frustrated at his inability to beat Lawler and hits a couple of beautiful top rope kneedrops (cliche by know but Lawler's almost deadweight sell on impact was a joy to watch) and a lovely splash which surprised me given the length of the ring Lawler was from Mantell. The finish itself though is an all time great finish in its significance and the execution and pacing to get to this finish was also a glorious touch by one participant:

Dutch runs into Lawler and Lawler's greater weight sends Dutch spiralling to the floor. As he gets to the apron Lawler nails him with a few punches and takes the time to soak up the audience reaction before each one and on the third punch Dutch boots Lawler and hits a flawless sunset flip over the ropes and pins Lawler to win the belt clean as a whistle. A freaking incredible and amazing finish not only in its execution and planning but also given its Jerry Lawler FFS

Can't wait to watch their next 2 matches including the famed Barbed Wire match. And Lawler continues to improve his standing as the potential GOAT US Worker and potentially GOAT worldwide.


4. Jerry Lawler vs Dutch Mantell, Southern Heavyweight Championship, Loser Leaves Town, Memphis, 27/3/1982 (All time great bait and switch, Dutch's mid match promo is outstanding).

Spoiler for SPOLIER:

Not exactly sure whether this match is actually before the No DQ match between them from 22/3 as the guys over at DVDVR seemed to be confused in which match actually came first. Mantell cuts an insanely awesome promo which is entirely believable and puts over himself and Lawler as the two top dogs before making a bold challenge to Lawler to come out for a title match and make it Loser Leaves Town. Lance Russell essentially gives away that they're not going to actually do a Loser Leaves Town match on free TV between two of the top stars in the promotion but Lawler enters and wants a piece of Mantell and this is ON!!

The actual match itself goes around 7 mins at best. What we get is a condensed version of Lawler vs Mantell greatness. Jerry hits a couple of insanely awesome punches here, one under the chin that Mantell bumps emphatically for and an insane running punch along the floor that was worthy of dislodging some front teeth. Mantell does well by giving Lawler everything he has and they work a nice continuation from Dutch's pre match promo about wanting to prove himself as Lawler's superior and there's some great bumping and selling from both men. Its really an angle rather than an actual match but the match we get is great for 7 minutes and the execution of the entire angle is amazing.

Mantell gets bested by Lawler and just as Jerry pulls down the straps to signal a comeback Mantell wisely ducks out of the ring a couple of times when he realises his over enthusiasm and ego may well have backed him into a corner he can't escape from and which could see him booted out of Memphis. In what can only be described as an all time great promo and performance by Mantell, I'll provide a quick summary:

Mantell says to Lawler this whole match and stipulation is stupid and puts over the fact that both men were great friends before the southern heavyweight belt came between them. Lawler is hesitant at going out to the floor to meet with Dutch but after Dutch declares he won't finish the match Lawler reluctantly goes out to the floor
Dutch then declares that Lawler is the toughest SOB he's come across and that both men will end up killing themselves in this war because of their pride. He says that instead of doing this they should be focusing on the Midnight Express and Jimmy Hart and stopping them from taking over Memphis. The crowd pop for when Mantell suggests he and Lawler team up and stop this petty rivalry which has destroyed a frienship and take out the real bad men of Memphis is terrific and both men shake hands and you feel like a new dynasty has been born in Memphis and Lawler & Mantell will unite and dethrone the Midnight Express...............................

AND THEN DUTCH SUCKERPUNCHES LAWLER!!! He then beats the piss out of Jerry with a ring post shot, a steel chair to the face and numerous punches and kicks before hitting a piledriver in the ring. Lawler is a crumpled heap and Dutch is drawing terrific heat from this small Studio crowd. Russell is putting Mantell over as the most cowardly and deplorable human being alive and Dutch makes a point to claim 'his' southern heavyweight championship and sarcastically says Lawler may need some attention.

2 all time great promos from Dutch to go along with a nicely worked 7 minute match along with a terrific angle makes for terrific viewing. This is up there with Dibiase vs Flair from Mid South 6/11 as a segment instead of just a match and Dutch is amazing in getting a crowd to cheer him pre match, boo him during the match and immediately as he begins to offer a truce before having them cheering the thought of him teaming up with his old pal Jerry again. People rightfully talk about Eddie in 05 as a convincing heel and this work from Dutch is right up there. If I didn't already know they'd be having a barbed wire match in 2 days to conclude this feud I'd have believed every word of his as completely sincere.


5. Jerry Lawler vs Dutch Mantell, Southern Heavyweight Title, Memphis, Barbed Wire Match, 29/03/1982

Spoiler for SPOILER:

Saw -Mystery- pimp this match as essential viewing and I couldn't agree more with him. On first watch I'd place this just ahead of their No DQ 22/3 match and the peak of the Lawler vs Mantell feud. The whole match feels like a Wrestlemania fight with both men laying in everything they have, in many ways the match isn't a case of beating your opponent but simply surviving whatever he throws at you.

They tease the barbed wire early on with both men jocking for position and hesitantly backing away from the ropes after a lock up. Lawler hits a nice takedown and slowly drags Mantell to the barbed wire with Dutch screaming frantically and kicking away at Lawler to escape for now. Dutch then attempts to inflict some revenge on Lawler but eventually settles into working over the legs and wearing Jerry down instead. Already I'm liking how they're putting over the damage the barbed wire can cause but not making it the most important factor in the match, instead of simply being a match full of 20 holy shit moments involving the wire they're keeping the crowd in suspense and teasing each spot where the barbed wire comes into play and as such each moment feels that much bigger and more of a game changer.

Dutch eventually utilises the barbed wire to open a nasty cut over Lawler's right eye which he works like a champ with some gorgeous punches and numerous other spots where he drives the wire into the exposed cut. Lawler's bumping during this spell is tremendous in collapsing full force into the mat as well as drunkenly staggering around whilst trying to not fall into the ropes. Eventually he catches Mantell with a sick boot to the nose and looks to be starting a famed Lawler comeback before Dutch lowblows him and then removes his strap as the ultimate insult to Lawler and the crowd suitably boos ferociously.

Dutch can't keep control for long though and a mixture of intense and gritty Lawler punches and eating the barbed wire has Dutch bleeding as well. The pacing and structure of the match is perfect for the environment they're in, its not a case of whoring out the barbed wire to create a standard gimmick match but more a trapped environment where both men are locked in 1 final battle with no escape. Lawler gradually begins to sell the wear and tear of the match not just in his bumping with some terrific 'gassed' flops to the mat after each punch but also by making his punches seem weaker and lacking in energy. Mantell himself takes the time to bump emphatically for some of Lawler's punches and combo's, including a lovely Flair esque flop after Lawler hits 3 gorgeous dancing left handed punches. All this builds to one tremendous spot where Lawler hits a gamechanging right hand which Dutch sells terrificly as a biable KO only for Lawler post impact to almost stagger to his right and collapse in a heap on the match. This match is an all out war, both participants are selling the wear and effect of the environment like absolute champs and not even a 3 minute clipping can take away from the drama.

The finish whilst horrifying in its simplicity to some is the perfect feud ender here. The entire match has built to both men bleeding and stumbling around with no breath and fight left in them and you get the feeling 1 move will be enough to score the decisive fall. There's a terrific failed bodyslam attempt which Lawler turns into a crossbody pin for an extremely close near fall before the finish. Both men can barely stand and as Dutch whips Lawler into the ropes with all his remaining strength, Lawler hits him mid air and collapses on top of a KO'd Dutch for the pin. Terrific in its simplicity and selling the match as a testament to Lawler's endurance. He hasn't won the match as much as he's survived the war and managed to keep Dutch down for those 3 crucial seconds.


6. Jerry Lawler vs Rick Martell, Memphis 12/10/1985

Spoiler for SPOILER:

Really great match here which tied in to one of the most consistent running angles in Memphis, that being Lawler's quest to win a major world title. Lawler starts the match like a house on fire with multiple pin attempts and Martell despite being a face shows more of a heel persona right from the go by beating the mat after each pin and Lance Russell on commentary points out Martell may just be annoyed that a scrub like Lawler is toying with him like this. Obviously when you're a touring world champ facing Jerry Lawler in Memphis you can expect to be a de facto heel but I dug how Martell slowly grew into a more vicious heel we weren't conditioned to expect from his character, him using a closed fist punch to stop Lawler escaping from a leg submission was sold tremendously by Russell as something unheard of when describing Martell.

They do a spot I always love with a touring champ vs local where Lawler bests Martell in the punch exchanges and dumps him on his ass. When you tie in this brief exchange as well as Lawler dominating the rest of the opening minutes it really gets the crowd hot seeing the champ on the backfoot in each exchange, Flair was a big fan of that spot and Martell sold the frustration of losing out on the exchange yet again tremendously. He then gets annoyed with the 'Go Jerry Go' chants and I'm really digging his character work: he's playing a very Cena esque role from ONS 2006 and it translates well into his control segment.

He hacks the leg of Lawler and goes to town on it with nice kicks, stomps, leg locks and figure fours and really cranks in a lot of the holds. Its not as engaging as someone like Flair doing it but you can see he's trying to get as strong a reaction as he can and its not just being done to kill some time. Lawler sells the workover extremely well: punching the mat to get the crowd further behind him, trying to reach his leg to check there's still some feeling left in his muscle tissue etc. And then when he manages to make a brief comeback he's hopping on one leg and doing his best to work with an obvious limitation and I dug how Martell immediately seized brief control again because Lawler was handicapped to the point where he couldn't do much at all.

Lawler finally pulls down the straps and makes his massive comeback and whilst he certainly sells the leg less than before (which did disappoint me because Lawler is about as consistent a seller as I can recall) I do think some people may have oversold how much he ignored it. I mean most of his punches were in the corner where he moved very little and he still used the rope at times to hold his balance before walking around the ring to follow Martell, and before the first fistdrop you see him tweaking and feeling his knee. I'd love to make some Lawler bias and say because it was part of the Lawler World Title quest they were going for some angle where he fights through the pain to win, sadly though the match doesn't last long between his comeback and the finish. I really think that had it gone 10 minutes longer we may have seen Lawler sell the leg more and work a nice story of him trying to overcome the injury. Perhaps because of the finish they just decided to get as much offence in as they could before the match ended, but I definitely felt the lack of time between Lawler's comeback and the finish was a more obvious detraction from the potential of this match than some apparent lack of selling by Lawler.

Shenanigans in Lawler title matches are to be expected and tbf as dusty finishes go I enjoyed this one. Martell goes for the figure four again and gets kicked off by Lawler who loses his boot in the process whilst the ref is down, Martell still pissed from Jerry's refusal to quit uses the boot against Lawler but can't get a pin because the ref is down. As he comes round Lawler gives Martell a boot shot in return and the ref calls for the bell and DQ's Lawler. I thought it brought about the story of Martell becoming a more sneaky and apparent heel tremendously and worked as continuing the arc of Lawler still being eluded from World Title Glory.

Plenty of good shit here and with a longer period between Lawler's comeback and the finish I think the match would have benefitted tremendously, Lawler still sold the leg for me well enough to show he wasn't very mobile but I do think 5-10 more minutes could have seen him sell the leg more and work a better story of Martell's leg workover being too much for him and ensuring he would lose a Title match again. As it was despite there being some great Lawler selling and Martell workover as well as a nice pace and structure, the leg workover never really benefitted from a more drawn out finishing stretch which sadly lessened its impact.


7. Jerry Lawler vs Koko Ware, Memphis Studio, 08/12/1979

Spoiler for SPOILER:

Freaking awesome and a candidate for best sub 10 minute match ever. Last match I watched of Lawler was let down by his comeback being too short and some selling issues but this is HEEL LAWLER and there ain't nothing wrong when Lawler heels it up in a wrestling ring. He's sporting some fancy white jacket and I legit thought he was a KKK member, which given the pigmentation of young Koko was an awkward moment. What's amazing is you see just how beloved Lawler was as a face, and then compare his heel run and just how utterly despicable he was. This studio crowd wants his crown stuck up his fat arse and some black kid is sporting a gorgeous afro and stache: I mean that kid was probably getting laid the second he grew both.

Anyways Lawler looks like 'The Man' early on with a couple of takedowns with Jimmy Hart jumping up at ringside before Koko catches Lawler with a taste of his own medicine and almost immediately Lawler is up complaining of a hair pull and I'm in love with the match already. Lawler whiffs on a diving fist drop and his exaggerated sell of the hand is magnificent. They then work a nice spot where Koko slowly reversed a headlock with his strength into a headscissor choke before dragging Lawler face first across the mat who's legs are kicking with desperation to escape. Lawler busts out a nice escape before whiffing on an elbow drop and he is pissed and starts kicking the ropes and pulls down the strap to FIGHT. He thinks better of it though and confides in Hart for some advice before working another headlock. Immediately he points to his hair to signal the ref to break the hold and when the ref's back is turned Lawler yanks the hair to regain control. The ref asks him what happened and Lawler's reaction to the suggestion he could have cheated is glorious: he shakes his head like he's a friggin boy scout and above cowardly shit like that.

They work this spot a few more time with Koko trying to garner crowd support to alert the ref, all the while Lawler is freaking POSING when he catches the camera is focusing in on his good side. SOMEONE FUCKING KILL THIS MAN!!! There's also this lovely spot where Lawler manouevres himself away from the ref's eyesight and tries to separate the fingers of Koko whilst having an armbar locked in. Eventually Lawler's arrogance gets the better of him and after taunting Koko not to exchange fists he clocks a beauty of a punch from Koko and sells it like a King (no pun intended) by stumbling around and having this priceless facial expression of stunned disbelief. Koko then unloads in the corner with terrific punches and some spears in the corner and Lawler sells one like his eyes are about to pop out of his head...it has to be seen to be believed.

Koko's inexperience gets the better of him though and he misses another spear attempt and eats the post. Lawler hits a nice delayed suplex before hitting arguably his most devasting 2nd rope fistdrop I've ever seen. Seriously nothing looked 'hokey' about this one, looks like poor Koko won't be eating for a week with the force of the punch he takes.

Terrific heel schtick performance from the King here, just making every hold entertaining and engaging along with some classic heel bumping and selling. His crowd control and taunting is some of the best ever and the crowd dieing when the 3 count is made is a nice reaction for this prick not getting his arse handed to him. Oh yeah and it only goes 9 minutes.


8. Jerry Lawler vs Terry Funk, NO DQ, Memphis 21/03/1981 (His #2 match of all time IMO)

Spoiler for SPOILER:

Due to the extreme nature and coarse language this review should not be viewed by anyone. MOTHERFUCKING hell what an insane match, jesus christ are the punches fucking brutal, Terry Funk is batshit insane to the point where you wonder if his moma's pussy was doing cocaine pre birth. No man should be this fucking insane. Lawler wears white and whilst he lost all right to wear white when he fucked some girl behind a dingy back alley joint aged 9 he lets you know to expect some serious blood will be spilled over the next 13 minutes. Well shit son its pissing Lawler vs Funk, you expecting Tamura vs Volk Han or some shit like that???????

Jimmy Hart is a delight at ringside ladies and gentleman. He's freaking leaping in the air like a bloody gymnast, scurrying under the fucking ring when Lawler comes within spitting and pissing distance of him and even swings a fucking cane to break up a pinfall. He's crazy and animated and he's still not even a blip on the radar of whatever you use to measure Funk's level of insanity in this match (Matt Hardy + Charlie Sheen + Kerry Katona + Andre the Giant after 100 pissing bottles of beer doesn't even measure up for christ sake). Within the first 30 seconds he's already being chased by Lawler, ends up hanging himself in the ropes, hits the floor and swings so hard he falls into the rope on the floor and is swinging at what can only be an imaginary midget only people as coked up and living life to the fullest like Terry Funk can see. He stumbles back in the ring and trips over the freaking rope and tumbles to the mat and hits the outside again. Funk is CRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAZY.

Lawler then bloodies Funk and oh my goodness is the selling to die for. He's punching him square in the face and Funk is jerking his body like he's gone cold turkey after being taken off whatever pissing meds he OD'd on to get in a state of insanity he's in here. Lawler's punches and Funk's stooging and drunken selling is a recipe that could cure any problem watching wrestling gives you, its glorious 100mph car crash nonsense and we haven't even clocked in at 4 mins for fuck sake. Funk rocks Lawler with a sick headbutt before biting at Lawler's eye, cutting him open in the first place before unloading with a barrage of insane punches and one motherfucking rediculous double axe handle slam right on the exposed cut. Lance Russell is telling the people in the back to put down the moonshine and observe this crazy Texan having a breakdown before our very eyes and meanwhile Funk is biting and spitting Lawler's blood out his mouth while Jimmy Hart bounces like TNA's cheques to undercard talent.

BUT WAIT!!! Lawler starts to work into a comeback, he's been bumping and selling the beating like a King (PUN FUCKING INTENDED) and is doing his darndest to cause this already hot and molten crowd of hillbillies to riot like its Woodstock. He starts to shake off them cobwebs and OH MY GOD the reaction when he pulls down the straps isn't even describable as a pop, its bloody magnificent and Lawler punches Funk with disgusting haymakers and Terry's throwing a whiffed punch at every opportunity, before stumbling forwards then backwards and doing a 360 turn around right down to the mat. CRAZY. This crowd is dieing right now and there's an awesome visual of some skanky middle aged Woman telling Lawler his punches suck and imitating how to do a better punch (its Lawler ya dumb bitch have a bit of class). How do you stop a loony Texan who lost his marbles, found another pair and then robbed them from a young kid after beating the shit out of him and then throwing them away because your're Terry Funk and you have no marbels??? Land square on his head from 6 feet is the correct answer and fuck did it look brutal.

Somewhere later Jimmy Hart gets his weasely ass back in the ring and eats a stiff as hell punch from Lawler and Funk senses the opportunity and drives the angled steel chair into the leg Lawler broke 1 year ago. FUCKING CONTINUITY AND CALLBACK SPOTS FTMFW. He works over the leg like a loony man with some form of reason and Lawler sells his ass off and if he gives up now this crowd will probably invade that ring before I swear again. FUCK no need, Lawler punches Terry square in the cheek and Terry wanders back to his corner and just deadweights on the ropes, bloody hell is he amazing here. Seriously this is what you point to when people scoff at these two being talked about as legit Greatest Of All Time workers.

Lawler turns the tables and beats the shit out of Terry with the chair, whilst still hobbling in the process (BECAUSE HE'S JERRY LAWLER AND SELLING IS SERIOUS BUSINESS) and looks to break Funk's leg with the chair. He beats the piss out of the leg and finally strolls back to the ring cool as ice whilst sporting a disgusting cut and the ref counts to 10 and this one is OVER.

Beautiful way to set up a rematch, the stooging, bumping and selling from both men is incredible. The crowd is as hot as any in history, the pacing is immaculate and perfect and Funk's drunken selling off of Lawler's haymakers is my new favourite spot in wrestling folklore. AND IT WAS ONLY 13 MINUTES!!!!!


9. Jerry Lawler vs Dory Funk Jr 30/03/1981, Memphis

Spoiler for SPOILER:

Okay, so Dory Funk may be one of my least favourite wrestlers ever. He's not necessarily as bad as someone like Davey or Angle who annoy me with selling, pacing, structure and general match layouts but he's mind numbingly boring and dull in matches and makes it incredibly hard for me to sit through his matches. I say this as someone who can happily sit through 60 minute matches from the 80s with the most memorable spot being a hip toss, he probably defines 'not what he does but how he does it'. Lawler on the other hand is someone who can do the bare minimum in terms of bumping and selling but do it in such a way that it gets over his opponent and engages the crowd, and when he dials it up and puts in his best performances you get a bonafide classic. So essentially I'm about to watch the clash between a guy who bores me to tears and a man who's made a life's work out of working standard matches but using intelligent touches and quirks to make the match much more engaging than it has any right to be.

This is 1 week after the EPIC NO DQ match vs Terry Funk and is a lead in to the Empty Arena match a week later. It's essentially worked like Lawler has faced some of the best of what Funk has to offer, but can he do the same with a different opponent in Dory who will stick to grappling (mind numbingly boring grappling to be exact) and won't be as willing to brawl with Lawler. Jimmy Hart is also suspended above the wing via wiring (reminiscent of HBK's Wrestlemania 12 entrance) and it makes for quite the visual.

Have to say I really did love this match, Dory is just full on methodical mode and trying to beat Lawler his way and not get caught up in Lawler's brawling. He hits a couple of lovely delayed headlock drops to the mat which looked really manly and wrenched in tightly on the neck of Lawler and I really dug Lawler despite not being schooled by Funk but certainly not as comfortable as he would be in a straight up fight clenching his fist to be the difference maker. Dory throws some gorgeous European Uppercuts in this which Lawler was selling like death by dropping to his knees and really wrenching his head back off of each shot, if Dory just did this every match I might not think he's utter shit. Funk also shows signs of being a killer like his brother albeit more calculated, he throws Lawler to the floor and Lawler's bump is pretty frightening considering he's hitting unprotected concrete. Dory smashes Lawler's head off of the table and once he gets back in the ring Lawler makes it his mission to turn this away from a wrestling match into a slugfest. Dory wisely gets out of the ring though everytime it appears Lawler is getting away from him and Lawler picking some form of timber and following Dory into the crowd was quite the impressive visual.

Dory though shows he can quite the prick whilst being more clever and subtle in bending the rules. Lawler starts punching him in the corner and just as the ref pulls Lawler away, Dory zooms in like a shark and knees Lawler in the ribs and Lawler hist the mat hard. They do the same spot again shortly thereafter and its really building a nice story of Dory's intelligence and methodical nature being a lot more than Lawler can handle as opposed to maniacal Terry who played right into Lawler's hands. The crowd gets noticeably pissed at Dory from here on out and after a rare mistake from Dory he starts to lose control and Lawler beats the shit out of him. Terrific spot where Lawler pulls down the straps to signal business is going to pick up and then just boots Dory in the bollocks, . Jimmy Hart then manages to interfere by throwing a chain to Dory which I dug in continuing this story of Lawler being out thought by 2 clever men who could best him through their brains and not their fists. They work a nice nearfall spot off of the chain shot before Lawler clocks Dory with his own chain (crowd reaction for this is something incredibly special) and from there they do a DQ finish after Dory punches the ref and we get a post match brawl between the two which I enjoyed in continuing this Lawler feud with the Funk brothers.

Really smartly worked match here with Lawler managing to make a typical Dory match more engaging and Dory himself was really great at selling Lawler's punches like his legs have lost all feeling and throwing some lovely uppercuts whilst also putting himself over as an intelligent Funk who could out manouevre Lawler whilst also being just as prickish as Terry. Lawler bumped and sold as well as he normally does and really nailed down the transition from 'wrestling' to brawling tremendously by demonstrating he was outmatched by Dory. The continuous theme of Dory and Jimmy being a lot more than Lawler could handle was also a running theme and the DQ finish despite lacking in execution was good in furthering Lawler's hate for the Funk family and setting up the Empty Arena match, especially with Dory being DQ'd for a punch to the referee but Lawler not being DQ'd for throwing Calhoun to the floor (Terry in the Empty Arena match is covinced Memphis is biased against him and Dory).


10. Jerry Lawler vs Terry Funk,Memphis, Empty Arena Match, 06/04/1981 (One of the best angles of all time)

Spoiler for SPOILER:

Oh sweet merciful Jesus was this incredible, I mean utterly incredible. I think Terry somehow heard my love for Lawler as a potential GOAT and made it his life's mission to make me love him more than Lawler...and freaking hell he really did as good a job as anyone could have to get me onto his bandwagon as the GOAT. Lance Russell and Funk make this, Lawler is brilliant himself but he plays second fiddle as the background to Funk's insanity.

Russell smoking and then immediately putting it out 'because we better start this' had me rolling already. They really put this over as not only something incredibly scary and dangerous, but also believable. Russell saying the 'match' is scheduled to start at 1pm and its only 12.50pm so we're shutting off the camera until they get here is something so subtle but convincing it makes you forget how goofy this whole thing could have come across as had TNA attempted it. 'If they arrive you'll see this....and if they don't no-one will ever see this', man alive is Russell amazing.

Funk then arrives into the arena AND OH MY GOODNESS HIS CHEMISTRY WITH RUSSELL IS EQUAL TO HIS CHEMISTRY WITH LAWLER. He's out of his mind talking about conspiracies and Lawler not having the refs on his jockstrap or the rats in the crowd cussing him. Russell is great in that JR role when he's doing an interview of carefully choosing his words because he senses Funk may just make him his bitch and bite his cock off if Lawler doesn't get here soon enough. Funk's checking under the ring to assure everyone Jimmy Hart ain't here and later to see if Lawler is hiding like a coward . He's off his fucking rocker. He then gets incredibly pissed that 1pm has passed and Lawler is nowhere to be seen, Russell stands up for Lawler and Memphis and comes across as this devoted man to the promotion trying to tell this Texan to have faith because Lawler runs from no-one. Funk then asks if Russell wants to throw down and get in the ring and Lance later telling him he's just the goddman guy Terry wanted to commentate this thing and will not get involved any other way is just hilarious. Funk saying 'he's nowhere to be found and now I guess I look like an idiot' was just delivered so precisely it makes me think Funk is the greatest talker in the history of our sport, just utterly engaging and believable as this deranged and psycotic loony.

Lawler arrives complete with Crown and Cape and Terry mocking him is just amazing, and I mean AMAZING...."Do you know how riiiidiculous you look, there's nobody here youuuuuuu jackass" . The trash talking from both is great with Funk asking if Lawler brought a gun in his crown and Jerry casually replying 'I don't need a gun for you Funk'. They're really putting this thing over as 2 men who you know will give it their all and right off the bat you sense someone is going to get seriously injured. Funk taunting Lawler as they circle each other before spitting at him to draw a lock up was terrific in building the tension whilst having some great comedy. You could just see this match being on some series finale of a popular show between the 2 main characters, Funk really could have been an actor for how amazing he is and believable he is as this man who just snaps into insanity.

He gets punched square in the jaw and shrieks at Lawler 'you son of a bitch' is just terrific and from there his voice his unspeakably high like his balls have been cut off (and I wouldn't put it past these 2). He piledrives Lawler on the concrete who sells it like death by constantly holding his neck and struggling to get to the floor and then bashes his head off of the table and Jerry looks dead. Funk screams hysterically for Russell to come over here and 'AAAAASSSSSSSSK HIIIIIIIIIIIM' if Lawler wants to quit and I was legit disturbed at just how great Terry was at conveying this intense hatred and contempt for another human being. He then breaks off a piece of exposed wood and turns it into a spike and sets about ripping Lawler's eye out and Lance's pleas for Terry to stop puts this over as maybe the end of the line for Jerry. The tension is just unspeakable and Lawler finally turns the tables by elbowing Funk who sells it like death before kicking Funk's elbow and driving the spike into Terry's eye AND MY GOD THE SHRIEK. Terry is absolutely screaming in agony and crying over his eye, 'MY GODDAMN EYE, LANCE I CAN'T SEE OUT OF IT'. I was honestly reminded of the infamous scene from Deliverance (you all know the one) with just how piercing and scary Terry's screams of agony where, if I was 10 I'd have legit thought he had lost his eye and the blood is disgusting in convincing you he really is blind.

Lawler's look of disgust in what he had to do to put this man down also really adds to what we just witnessed, I get that really this is more of an angle taking place in the ring but the sheer hatred and contempt both men have for the other as well as Lance being on commentary for it and adding to the drama makes me think its worthy of adding a star rating to it. This truly is up there in how to do a bloody end to a dramatic and iconic feud and Terry's selling of the eye after Lawler is out of the building by calling him out again when 30 seconds earlier he was begging for a doctor and crying for it to end really was just the icing on the cake. The pre match and post match stuff is just an incredible beginning and conclusion to this angle and the in ring stuff was fine for what we got, and made sense with it being treated as a fight and nothing more. This is the all time great performance IMO from Funk, no-one else could have done what he did in these 15 minutes, a true genius and talent.


11. Jerry Lawler vs Randy Savage, AWA Southern Heavyweight Championship, Steel Cage, Memphis, 12/12/1983

Spoiler for SPOILER:

Thought this was very good, but honestly felt they could have done so much more and had a better match. Savage despite being a bump freak and trying his darndest to work over Lawler and lay a beating on him just doesn't have the aura/ability that a Dundee/Funk or Mantell has when beating up Jerry Lawler. I mean Memphis as a whole was all about guys doing things that most wrestlers would have no problem doing....but just pacing it so much better and getting crowd reactions most guys today could only dream of. Savage was really good though trying to constantly break away whenever Lawler threatened to get on top: loved him going to the top of the cage for a break after Lawler unloaded some vicious punch combos in the corner. They also do one of the best double KO spots I've ever seen: Savage does a great airplane spin and both men sell the fuck out of it as a major manouevre and whilst they're spinning Lawler hits what feels like a real desperation punch that floors both men. Savage also bumped impressively and almost broke the cage on a couple of occasions with how fast he was bumping. He also worked a great opening to the match in trying to ground Lawler immediately after getting his ass kicked in the strike exchange and his constant use of a foreign object to halt Lawler's momentum as well as a killer headbutt to the bollocks after the ref stopped Lawler attempting a piledriver were great heel spots which got the crowd pissed.

Still it just didn't feel as epic or hate filled like the Dundee or Mantell matches and between Savage flubbing a double axe handle to the floor as well as randomly throwing out a missed top rope elbow which he barely sold afterwards I thought there was a bit of a structure problem. Savage really should have had an extended beatdown and I think Lawler's comeback would have worked much better after the double KO spot and both men staggering to their feet. The piledriver being an automatic DQ kind of took me out of the drama as well, hard to buy the match as being as brutal as they tried to display when you can be DQ'd for 1 move and the DQ finish itself whilst good in prlonging the feud and cutting off a great Lawler comeback and making his chase of Savage all the more dramatic just killed what could have been a great ending. A very good match but not without its faults that could have made the match all the more better, Lawler was his great self but some of Savage's offence and move selection felt extremely off for a man who supposedly was incredibly detailed in structuring his matches.


12.Jerry Lawler vs Randy Savage, Kentucky, 09/04/1984

Spoiler for SPOILER:

Yeah this was more like it and a better match than cage IMO. Savage rules it terrificly as the deranged loony who's convinced Lawler, the cameramen, the crowd and Lance Russell are all in some great conspiracy against him and its a much more impressive heel job by Savage that felt more along his niche than trying to work like a Dundee or Mantell heel in the Cage match. Right off the bat they do a rule of threes spot that I've come to adore in Jerry Lawler matches, here Savage yanks his hair twice in the corner and Lawler is absolutely disgusted that the ref isn't doing his job and on the third attempt yanks Savage's hair who promptly flips out at all this injustice and Jimmy Hart at ringside is terrific at belitting the ref for favouritism. They do a cool little spot where Savage after circling the ring and acting further demented has his hand grabbed by the ref and ends up eating a punch from Lawler and again he and Hart are going insane at the supposed shenanigans whilst Lance is trying not to lose his shit with Jimmy in particular. Savage's control segment is also terrific, he really beats the shit out of Jerry with headbutts, kicks and plenty of double axe handles and ring post shots. It also serves as a nice bit of desperation from Savage after losing the wrestling exchange with Lawler as well as the strike exchange: loved the headscissor spot where Lawler spikes Savage on his head and Jimmy Hart screams he used the hair. Lawler is also just insanely awesome selling wise throughout this: he's grasping his hand every time he misses a fist drop and feeling the fingers, he bumps like a madman including an insane flat back bump onto the concrete and there's a great 30 second stretch where his legs go wobbly as he eats some gorgeous punches from Savage and an elbow which he sells beautifully by limply shaking his leg.

The Lawler comeback is as great as always, he leaves it a lot later in the match and it comes off much more dramatic with him throwing literally everything he has left, it'll be said a 1000 times by me but the Jerry Lawler comeback will never be bettered by anyone, he just lands some incredible 'fuck you' haymakers and here he does another awesome trait of his by selling his exhaustion by making his last couple of punches noticebaly weaker and Lance picks up that he may have punched himself out. Saw a few people say the finish killed their enjoyment but I didn't have a problem with it on Lawler's end as much as I did the referee. Lawler eats a piledriver from Savage behind the ref's back but Savage spots his cornermen getting into it with the ref and turns his back on Lawler who crawls over and rolls him up but the refs are too slow in getting around to the pin and it comes off quite bad in the piledriver being blown off. Its not like Jerry gets up and flies over to Savage because he does sell it well by crawling over like its his last hope of winning, but had the refs been more alert it could have worked better as a flash roll up instead of an awkward 7 second pause before the 3 count. Still this had great character work from Savage and Hart, Lawler bumping and selling superbly and a better double KO spot than in the Cage. Great match all round.


13. Jerry Lawler vs Randy Savage, Memphis, NO DQ, Loser Leaves Town 03/06/1985

Spoiler for SPOILER:

Awesome match right here and the best of their matches together, the coup de triumph if you will. Really smartly worked in the opening with Lawler's LLT experience allowing him to pick his spots and remain calm whilst Savage constantly stooges and stalls after each exchange and searches for the best way to secure the advantage. It was refreshing to see a LLT worked a lot more causally and building to a conclusion and both men really sold the magnitude of the match in how they approached the match, Lawler moreso considering he'd put his career on the line against Savage leaving town. I adored Savage trying to taunt Lawler and bait him into making a rash error only for Lawler to spit in the face of Savage and draw him back into the ring before unceremoniously dumping him on his ass again. Lawler even resorting to a low blow again called back to his LLT experience in there being no code of honour in such an environment and Savage really sold it well as a spot he didn't expect from Lawler. Savage also adds to his frustration by gloriously immitating the boxing spot where he covers his face and eyes to protect himself from Lawler's punches as well as trying to get inside Lawler's head, so simple yet so brilliant in building each sequence to mean a great deal in the context of the match. Sadly around 14 minutes of this is clipped which is a crying shame because it cuts out around 8 minutes into the match, which has consisted of Lawler outworking and outsmarting Savage and building to that transition spot. We return with both men colliding into one another and selling the wear and tear and whilst what we get before the clip and afterwards is supreme wrestling, the clip cutting out the transition to Savage's control segment really hurt the match's flow in building from Lawler controlling-Savage controlling-the finish.

Once we come back to the match, Savage opens up a nasty cut by drilling Lawler from the apron into the announce table and then proceeds to beautifully work over the cut with rights and lefts and gouging and biting. Its a tremendous beating consisting of 0% Lawler offence and his selling of the beating as well as the ref coming in every so often to check on the ever increasing cut over the right eye terrificly builds the drama and the crowd becomes noticeably more anxious and voiceferous for Lawler with every second that passes with him looking ever closer to defeat. The moment the ref calls for the bell due to Lawler being too hurt to continue is a really great moment with Jerry almost collapsing in agony and the crowd on the verge of rioting as Savage smugly strolls around the ring. Lawler crawling to ringside and begging the officials to let him lose his eye and go down fighting instead of losing his career on a whimper and the accompanying reaction is pro wrestling done right. I know a lot of people aren't big fans of matches ending soon after a match is restarted but Lawler being moments away from defeat really adds to the drama and makes a sudden death shoot-out all the more appropriate a finish and his comeback really ranks as an all time great one, even by Lawler standards. He musters up one last breath and pulls down the strapping and again times it to perfection in getting a thunderous reaction before unloading with the customery 'fuck you' haymakers and Savage bumping like a madman with no answer. The following piledriver is an ever so delicious finish when you consider Lawler being unable to hit the manouevre in both previous matches was a big handicap in Savage being able to hang with Lawler and handicapping Lawler.

4th best LLT IMO behind the 3 Lawler vs Dundee matches, which is no disrespect on this match.


14.Jerry Lawler & Randy Savage vs King Kong Bundy & Rick Rude 10/09/1984

Spoiler for SPOILER:

Awesome tag right here. The crowd is molten at the thought of Savage teaming up with Lawler and Savage is a total nutjob here. He's challenging Rude to a slugfest, trying to have a chair fight on the floor with Bundy, barking like a dog and getting Rude worked up and calling for the ref to put this guy on a leash. He's just a total loon randomly coming in to wreak some havoc and beat the shit out of Rude & Bundy. Speaking of Rude & Bundy they really make a terrific team here: Rude eats a great beating early on via Lawler's punches and Savage's bionic elbow and his punch drunk selling and bumping is as great as you come to expect from Rude especially off of the Savage airplane spin and then they do a great spot where Rude challenges Savage to a muscle display and then gets irate at being bested by Savage and driven out of the ring that he goes to the floor and cuts a brief promo on Savage and his mongrel fans. They continually come off second best in every exchange and it all culminates with them having Lawler in the corner only for him to smash their heads together and once they hit the floor they're daring anyone to hope over the barrier and fight them. There was also one terrific spot with Savage just randomly walking behind Rude and smashing his head off of the table: SAVAGE MAN. HE'S FREAKING NUTS.

Bundy then manages to overpower Lawler and starts a tremendous FIP spell, Lawler really bumps and sells the beating amazingly by jerking his body and spazzing out after every Bundy kneedrop and splash and Rude and Bundy are really great at working him over, toying with Savage to work a 2 on 1 beatdown and numerous cut off spots including 2 great teases for the hot tag where Lawler gets caught in mid air and launched into the corner and when he gets his head rammed off the turnbuckle and Savage just misses out on the tag as he gets to the apron. Rude meanwhile manages to hit an illegal pildriver behind the ref's back and his celebration afterwards is GLORIOUS. Total shithead and him shaking his head like a boy scout who cannot tell lies when Calhoun inquiries about said piledriver is more glorious heel schtick.

Finish is really good in setting up the rematch a week later, Lawler times his comeback to perfection and reels off some desperation haymakers to Bundy and you manage to see his facial expressions thanks to the superior video quality and the desperation and anger in his face really sells his comeback as an all or nothing offence sprint. He tags in Savage and we get some brawling between Savage/Rude and Lawler/Bundy which culminates in Savage drilling the ref to get some more of Rude and the ref throws the match out. Terrifc STF formula with a golden FIP segment and heel schtick from Rude in particular and a great booking of Bundy as a total monster. The spot where Bundy spits at Savage and they stare each other down really felt like a huge clash of the titans moment and Savage was pulling a psychotic facial expression even for him. They don't make matches like this no more.


15. Jerry Lawler & Randy Savage vs King Kong Bundy & Rick Rude, NO DQ, 17/09/1984

Spoiler for SPOILER:

Sensational for a 9 minute match, insanely vicious and violent and filled with tremendous hate and impressive spots. Rude was the star of the match for me, bumped and sold a beating really well early on from Lawler before moving into a killer mode after being cut open and becoming a vicious shark and laying in a tremendous beating on Savage. Lawler and Bundy exchanges were very good and Lawler bumped around like a machine and threw some gorgeous punches particularly during his comeback before choking Rude with a chain and nailing the piledriver. Jimmy Hart choking Lawler whilst Bundy beat the crap out of him was a spot I enjoyed in continuing the Lawler vs Hart feud and demonstrating Hart in particular will always try and get his licks in no matter what the match. Bundy standing on top of a table with Lawler underneath was a hell of a spot and him & Rude acting like two of the most cocky shits in the process drew some monster heat. Could have done without Savage throwing the double axe handle every 30 seconds, mainly because the more I see of it the more I can't help but feel he hits it as well as Cena hits the 5 knuckle shuffle and because when he was throwing punches with Bundy and generally keeping it on his feet he was really great. Took a gorgeous bump as well over the top rope from Rude. They really built to the finish well I thought, firstly with Bundy splashing Calhoun to break up a pin he couldn't have stopped otherwise, Hart pulling the ref's hand away when he was about to count 3 for Lawler before amidst all the confusion Savage hits a bridging suplex but Rude manages to get his arm up as the ref counts Savage down for 3.

The faces celebrating only to realise what has happened was a glorious finish I thought and really drew some great heat at slimeball Rude cheating defeat. Not on the level of the match a week earlier but a damn fine effort for the time they got.


16. Jerry Lawler vs Jimmy Hart, NO DQ LumberJack match, Memphis, 29/06/1981 (The match he should have had with Michael Cole at Wrestlemania 27)

Spoiler for SPOILER:

Probably the best wrestler vs manager pseudo squash match ever? Seeing Lawler and Hart be able to work this sort of match and then remember the debacle that was Lawler vs Cole at Wrestlemania 27 is a crying shame because Cole despite not being able to replicate the awesomeness of Jimmy Hart would have made a great punching bag for Lawler.

Match itself goes 8 minutes but is chop full of awesomeness. Really has the feel of Batman vs some local drug dealer who's shitting himself at the beating he's about to take and trying to find any opportunity to cheat his fate. Hart takes a bunch of awesome manager bumps off of Lawler punches and whilst scrambling to check his teeth are still in place manages to throw some powder into Lawler's eyes and begin a brief flurry of offence with some lovely punches that Lawler sells nicely and Hart to his credit is really good as this noob wrestler just trying to knock Lawler out whilst blinded and even unraps a chain which he chokes Lawler with and uses as a weapon with a couple of gorgeous punches that Lawler sells lovely by snapping his head backwards. Once Lawler manages to recover his sight there's a great pause as Hart now tries to run having accepted he's managed to somehow piss Lawler off even more and we get a fun 'babyface lumberjacks toy with Hart and throw him back into the ring' spot before Lawler obliterates Hart's leg which is a great callback spot to what began this blood feud when Hart dumped Lawler after he broke his left leg. Lawler locks in repeated spinning toe holds (Funk's legendary move and this match happening shortly after the Lawler vs Funk feud was another neat callback) until the ref calls for the bell and post match Lawler finishes Hart off once and for all by breaking his leg with the final spinning toe hold.

Great match to limit Hart's weaknesses as a guy who never wrestles and putting over his heel character by having him get enough offence in to make his eventual beating that much sweeter without dragging the match down. Hart really is a hell of a bumper as well to the man's credit.


17. Jerry Lawler vs Ric Flair, NWA Title, Memphis 14/08/1982 (Whole angle including interviews in on Youtube, watch it to appreciate the true greatness of professional wrestling in its day).

Spoiler for SPOILER:

Where to begin with this. Its the continuation of a long running story that defined Jerry Lawler: his quest to become World Champion. Flair arrives and conducts a pre match interview with Lance Russell and the Memphis promoter, he subtly insults Memphis by saying its surprised him with how much class its shown when he'd been 'misinformed' that it was nothing but a hicktown populated by rednecks. Flair really just oozes professional athlete who you can tell is trying to act this honourable and noble man when deep down he's nothing but a scuzball. They announce he'll wrestle on local TV as well as wrestle the Southern Heavyweight Champion at an undisclosed date in the future.

Lawler then arrives after Flair has signed the contract and immediately sets about continuing the feud with Jimmy Hart whilst revelling in the fact he's once again the Southern Heavyweight Champion. He waits around for Flair to arrive for his match against a young jobber and asks to shake the Champ's hand and wish him well on his first visit to Memphis. Flair subtly pokes fun at Lawler being a hometown guy and not a revered nationwide athlete by jokingly asking who Lawler is again like he's some teaboy who Flair doesn't have to remember. From here Lawler quitely puts over Flair's debut in Memphis being a major deal and that Flair would be wasted on a young rookie with little experience and plays to the crowd suggesting Flair and the studio needs to see the best around and that can only be Flair vs Lawler for the NWA Title with a 10 minute TV time limit. Flair puts over the belt as something you don't see being defended on Local TV but relents and says if Lawler wants to be embarassed then all he has to do is get in the ring. Flair even ducks out of the ring to offer Lawler one final chance to walk away and not have his reputation in the town be forever tarnished by being outwrestled by Flair. Just a superb angle with two compelling characters and seeing both men tease a fight spilling out due to their pride was a sight to behold.

The match itself is fairly basic but still real good in giving us a teaser of Flair vs Lawler whilst leaving room for them in the future to have a longer and more heated match. Lawler initially controls whilst Flair tries to outwrestle Lawler on the mat to no avail and it all builds to Flair snapping at Lawler when he doesn't back away from the ropes quick enough with Flair treating Lawler like he's some scrub who has no business being in a wrestling ring. They have Flair get visibly pissed at being outwrestled in the beginning and do a wonderful near fall tease with Lawler countering a suplex attempt into a picture perfect sleeper. Flair eventually gains control and spends the final 4 minutes of the time limit emphatically working over Lawler, holy crap at the head bump Lawler takes full force onto the concrete floor btw, with the workover culminating in a figure four that Lawler sells like death. The time limit expires and Flair screams in disgust that Lawler didn't quit, wrenches back on the hold telling Lawler to give up before ducking out of the ring and declaring he wants 5 more minutes and that they're now playing on Flair's terms. Again just a terrific story and angle in having Flair be disgusted that Lawler could survive 10 minutes with him, and when you factor in Lawler being notoriously more dangerous the longer a match goes the next few minutes are insanely dramatic.

Lawler begins his all time great comeback as per usual and rocks Flair with haymakers and slams galore and Flair scurries around like a man on the verge of defeat. He crawls to the floor and takes his belt and walks out with Lawler saying Flair quit and thus Lawler is now the champ. They come back from commercial and Flair returns with his belt saying since there was no contract for a world title match it wasn't an official defence and more an impromptu challenge and thus Lawler may have won the match but not the title. Flair then brings out Jimmy Hart and acts incensed that Lawler has not only survived the champ after making himself out to be a massive underdog but in the process has humiliated the champ on local TV and Flair makes a $10,000 cheque to Hart to be cashed upon Lawler being taken out of professional wrestling for good.

As with Memphis the superceding angle along with the ring work always helps with a rating and this match is a sensational TV angle featuring great promo work from both men, teasing Flair's shift from respectful touring champ with a hint of arrogance into full on rich scumbag heel insulting the town and its residents whilst making Lawler look legit in hanging with Flair and building what could have been a monumental Lawler vs Flair & Hart feud. Flair was amazing in the final segment as well with him creeping into a psychotic rant and then demanding Russell back away from him and not crowd him out whilst he placed the bounty on Lawler's head. His taunting to the crowd that their hero would soon be out of wrestling forever really makes me angry they never followed through with a prolonged feud between the two because it would have been the shit.


18. Jerry Lawler vs Bam Bam Bigelow, Texas Death Match, Memphis, 07/09/1986

Spoiler for SPOILER:

DesolationRow I believe said this was one of the most perfect demonstrations of a monster vs top babyface match and I can't find any room to disagree with him here. Just an all round great match with a hot crowd that got over Bigelow as a terrifying monster whilst keeping Lawler credible in getting just the right amount of offence for a guy of his stature without killing the story of Bigelow being an immoveable object. Take all of this with some terrific selling, pacing and structuring between falls and you have a tremendous match.

Opening 2 falls see Lawler get squashed with Bigelow just destroying him with punches and headbutts to the ribs that Lawler sells like death. He also bumps emphatically for all of Bigelow's offence and really puts him over as a monster who he'll struggle to defeat and instead works around trying to outsmart Bigelow after being promptly dealt with in the power exchanges. There's a great spot early on where Lawler has eaten a flurry of punches in the corner and after rolling to the floor goades Bigelow into punching the ring post and both men sell it amazingly: Lawler by almost collapsing and holding his head after the Bigelow offence and Bam Bam by constantly trying to get feeling back into the arm and eventually lowering his right arm and going into lock up exchanges with only the left hand allowing Lawler to hit some fierce snap punches which Bigelow sells as well as Lawler sells for Bam Bam, he'll snap back after a punch, collapse into the corner and at times just stagger drunkenly like he has no clue where he's at. The spot where Lawler then grabs his hand after punching Bigelow and putting over the power Bigelow's head possesses, which ties in with him using his head to win the opening 2 falls was a great payoff from the opening falls and some creative selling from Lawler which you don't come to expect these days.

They really do work a unique take on a LMS compared to the matches these days with 50 amazing spots. What I've come to love about these matches in Memphis is they often work it as a simple match of beating your opponent up to the point where he cannot answer a 10 count, Lawler's ribs take a tremendous beating from Bigelow's punches (seriously Bigelow is up as a great puncher) and really leans into a few and bumps dramatically like you think Bigelow will soon carve a hole in his stomach and each time he has to answer the 10 count he'll dramatically fall into the ropes so he's up but barely standing and looking ever more precarious as a sitting duck. His constant attempts to out fox and outmanouevre this monster ties in nicely with Bigelow's over confidence costing him the 3rd fall which Russell puts over as 30 seconds where Lawler can rest up and absorb the beating he's taken so far.

Bigelow slowly moving into a more vicious mode and working over Lawler's cut via biting and then working a sleeper was a nice payoff to Lawler's resilience being too much for Bigelow and forcing him to abandon the strategy of working the ribs and instead try and choke Lawler out. Again they take the time to develop this story so it comes off much better instead of being thrown out there for little reason other than to waste time or set up some contrived spot and Lawler trying a sleeper of his own really was timed as the last bit of offence he has left in him. His energy exhausts him and he eats a pin after Bigelow counters the sleeper and now Lawler looks dead and a certain loser...

Until he pulls down the straps!! The thing with Lawler's comebacks are how well he times them into the story of the match, here Bigelow has noticeably slowed down for a man his size now wrestling for just over 20 minutes and Lawler now has one final flurry of offence to try and put this monster down. He hits his usual gorgeous haymakers in this comeback which Bigelow bumps for emphatically and really adds to the drama of the match with Lawler looking like the most heroic guy in the world for coming back from this emphatic beating. His collapsed sell after hitting Bigelow with all his might was another subtle but brilliant touch in the match and the finish was great I thought: Bigelow with all his remaining strength launces Lawler into the ref and pins him despite Lawler having his feet on the ropes. Sharpe then comes in and accidentally hits Bigelow over the head with a chair during the 30 second rest period and when the ref comes to he begins the 10 count. Both men get counted down for 10 and Russell explains whoever gets to their feet first will be the winner: Lawler brilliantly staggers slowly onto his feet before propping himself off of the ropes to be ruled the winner: completing the story of him just managing to outlast Bigelow and overcome emphatic odds.

Great storytelling and drama in mixing a perfect balance between monster heel and heroic babyface, both men were dynamite on offence and in their bumping to get the other man over and the ongoing story of brains vs brawn was wonderfully developed via some clever spots. Really a great match to show what Bigelow could have been in wrestling.


19. Jerry Lawler & Dutch Mantell vs Bill Dundee & Buddy Landell, Memphis 10/03/1986

Spoiler for SPOILER:

OMFG Dundee was spectacular in this, he put in an Eddie Guerrero 2005 esque character performance 19 years before Eddie mastered it. From the opening bell he's deranged and psychotic and trying to scare Russell before running immediately when he spots Lawler wanting to bloody his injured eye like Dundee did to Lawler in the infamous 30/12/85 LLT match between the pair. Dundee also does one of my favourite ever sells off of a punch from Lawler, he just deadweights himself and falls to the floor in such incredibly dramatic fashion like some punk on Knight Rider who's just realised he's hopelessly outmatched against Michael Knight. Why the random Knight Rider reference you ask? FUCK YOU that's why. Landell manages to top Dundee selling wise off of a wacky punch combo from Lawler and Mantell and his stumbling, punching air and twisting his head 180 degrees after each punch was just amazing. Dundee casually low blowing Lawler and then turning possessed at the sight of his own blood and consequently choking Lawler with the ringside rope as well as grabbbing the table to smash Lawler's head off of just looked so amazingly psychotic and really had you believing Dundee had lost his mind. Loved the comedy spot where the heels messed up and Dundee hit Landell with a chain. Finish was a bit weak but fit with how pissed off of Lawler and Mantell were and Dundee trying to stop the beatdown of a bloodied Landell before finally saying fuck this and walking out capped off a great psychotic/douchebag performance from Dundee.


20. Jerry Lawler & Bam Bam Bigelow vs Austin Idol & Tommy Rich, Double Jeopardy Match, Memphis 16/03/1987

Spoiler for SPOILER:

Insane and wild brawl here, the Double Jeopardy stipulation kind of made the match hard to follow as the feed kept switiching between both rings which whilst getting the best of both matchups just made you feel you were missing a lot more stuff whilst one matchup was being focused on. I did enjoy both teams trying to work within the stipulation and get into a 2 on 1 sitauation whilst only having a 60 second time limit before they had to go back to the other ring. Rich was amazing at bumping and eating all of Bigelow's offence like a champ, and the punch drunk selling off of Lawler's punches after he's been bloodied was incredible. Loved the low blow spot in the ropes to Idol from Lawler as a revenge spot for the attempted ring post shot to the nads that Bigelow interrupted. Idol and Rich were great with the exaggerated bumping off of Bigelow's headbutts as well as looking like total shitbags beating the crap out of the faces. The double jeopardy 60 second rule being broken causing a DQ was a good finish in setting up the post match beatdown of Lawler and Bigelow and the subsequent Bigelow rampage really set up the Texas Death Match the following week incredibly well.


21. Jerry Lawler & Bam Bam Bigelow vs Austin Idol & Tommy Rich, Texas Death Match, Memphis 23/03/1987

Spoiler for SPOILER:

Like the last match, intense and crazy brawl between four men who just do not like each other. Bigelow in particular is still pissed from last week and just runs round the ring with the steps looking to decapitate someone for their sins. Idol in particular is really great begging off Bigelow after a 2x4 has no effect on Bam Bam and like last week both heels bump incredibly well for all babyface offece. Rich in particular was great at constantly going back to a low blow everytime Bigelow started to get back up and look unstoppable. Idol & Lawler work well with Idol beating the crap out of Lawler for large spells only to fall victim to the Lawler comeback and subsequently gets tied up in the ropes and has to watch Rich get the crap kicked out of him for the win. Post match Bigelow is still looking for blood and even tries to beat the piss out of Jerry Calhoun. Poor Jerry.


22. Jerry Lawler vs Austin Idol, Southern Heavyweight Championship, Steel Cage Hair vs Hair Match, Memphis, 27/04/1987

Spoiler for SPOILER:

Incredible match which encompasses everything that is great about pro wrestling. A clear babyface vs heel dynamic, a nuclear crowd which turns up the dial incredibly during the finish and subtle build to the ultimate swerve which changed Memphis forever. Right from the bell they set the Rich interference incredibly well, from Russel mentioning in about the refund Idol is offering, Heyman thinking he’s going to be in the cage and then told to exit or have Idol forfeit and Idol & Heyman trying to get out/into the cage with no luck and reaffirming there is no way in or out of the cage..only for Rich to come from under the ring and beat the crap out of Lawler and have Idol get the crucial win and hand Lawler his first ever Hair vs Hair match defeat.

The action prior to the Rich interference was top notch, Idol wants no part of Lawler and unsuccessfully manages to try and get out of the locked door before he eats a great ass kicking early on from Lawler. Idol bumps like a champ and eats all the punch tremendously well including the drunken punch selling that I’ve come to adore in Lawler matches. He eventually manages to regain the momentum with a concealed steel chain which was a nice callback spot to their chain match where Lawler defeated Idol & the fact Idol takes a few seconds to grab his head and try and shake off the cobwebs from the early Lawler onslaught really impressed me as something not a lot of other workers would have thought necessary to do. From here on out Idol is great at working over the King and peppering him with elbows, punches, steel chair shots to the ribs and throwing him into the cage. His selling off of a missed kneedrop was tremendous and him struggling to get up the ropes afterwards was smart and brilliant selling which I adored. Lawler himself was amazing here as the fired up babyface, eating some tremendous bumps off of punches and one sick bump over the ropes to the concrete floor. His headbutt from the top rope and subsequent KO selling was amazing and something I haven’t seen done before and he even does the missed fistdrop sell that never fails to make me crack a smile.

Looooved Lawler’s flurry comeback and Idol bumping huge and the crowd sensing the end was nigh..only for Idol to throw Lawler into the referee to buy himself some time and for Heyman to throw powder in the eyes of Lawler. They work a couple of certain pinfalls for Lawler only for the crowd to boo ferociously at the referee being knocked out...the heat and then sudden silence as Rich then enters after the Lawler piledriver was chilling and from here on out you get a great babyface beatdown minus the one horribly done spike piledriver and you can only imagine how the locals must have felt seeing their hero die before their very eyes. That one fan scaling the cage only to be caught as well as the post match taunting was incredible to see, I don’t for one minute doubt they had to watch their backs afterwards as this crowd was PISSED.


And that's all for now, there's a bunch of stuff I eventually plan to add to this but this should do for now.

As a treat I'll post the entire link to the Lawler/Flair studio match now:

Last edited by WOOLCOCK; 07-10-2012 at 12:41 PM.
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