IVP - The Best of Harley Race
Harley Race vs. Giant Baba - *** 1/2
Harley Race vs. Abdullah The Butcher - N/A
NWA World Title - 2 out of 3 Falls
Harley Race (c) vs. Jumbo Tsuruta - *** 3/4
NWA World Title
Harley Race (c) vs. Mil Mascaras - ***
Harley Race vs. Ric Flair - *** 1/4
- I was very surprised by how well I enjoyed the match with Baba, although the first 10-15 minutes are quite frustrating. At every open opportunity Baba goes for (and usually lands) a side headlock takeover and it's INCREDIBLY annoying. Constant headlocks or chinlocks? Come on guy, give me somethin different. But anyway once that shit ends it's a damn good match. Such a basic dynamic back in those days and it's very refreshing to see Harley slow the pace down and apply such a simple move like a head scissors and make it into a big turning point in the match where it takes Baba 3-4 minutes to get out of it. Bit of a human chess match, really enjoyed it. Awesome blade job from Harley too, great performance from him.
- The match with Abdullah technically only lasts like a minute or two because it becomes this huge brawl on the outside where Harley ends up bleeding from several parts of his body and then somehow gets a wooden crutch, breaks it, and uses it like a spike to stab the shit out of Abby. Eventually it goes out in the crowd and ends with a bloodied Race standing tall, bashing himself in the head with a chair and ramming his face into the ring post. Pretty fuckin awesome stuff.
- The match with Tsuruta is the best of the disc and is just a really crisp wrestling match with great storytelling. Race gets caught by Jumbo's quickness and loses the first fall but then throughout the rest of the match never lets Jumbo get any big flurries goin. Always managed to get out of the way of a cross body or step aside from a dropkick. Smart wrestling from Race and it did a great job in showing that Jumbo was a very good wrestler, but Harley was still the man and the kid wasn't ready to step up just yet.
- When the match with Mascaras rolled around Harley had a totally different look. Put on 20 or 30 pounds and had a much more rugged look. And of course he was now a full blown heel. Big contrast of styles in their match, Mascaras seemed to control it completely throughout. Move after move he'd hit until Harley got sick of it and hit a low blow or grabbed a chair. Pretty wild match that went all over the place until the ref finally called it a no contest. Mil never seemed to wanna sell much of what Race did, just cared about hitting his moves or getting to the next spot it seemed. Is this a recurring theme of his? Fun little match.
- It was weird seeing Flair/Race without something on the line, as Kerry Von Erich was in the midst of his short stint as NWA Champ. Just seemed like an exhibition match from two guys that knew each other extremely well. This is basically these two sleepwalking their way through a good match, but the crowd was hot the whole way through. Really cool to hear them yell Woo! and get behind every big move that was hit from the two Americans. Match had a couple flashes of brilliance, especially when Flair blocked the knee drop and swung it over into the figure four. Finishing sequence was nicely done as well, and it's really weird to see Flair lose 100% clean. Good match but the two had better obviously.
- I must stress how much I really enjoyed watching this. It's an IVP custom comp and the guy did a really good job of picking matches that showcased how smart of a wrestler Harley was while also showing he was one big badass. Definitely recommended for the matches from the 70s. Made me appreciate the guy a lot more.