Watched and wrote about the Savage/Lawler matches months back. The LLT from 85 is probably a top 3 LLT Lawler match.
Lawler vs Savage, Steel Cage Match (Memphis 12/12/83)
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.
Lawler vs Savage, (Kentucky 4/9/84)
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 shena....ns 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.
Lawler vs Savage, Loser Leaves Town (Memphis 6/3/85)
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.
Btw if you can, try and find a link for Dutch Mantell & King Cobra vs Bobby Eaton & Sweet Brown Sugar from 7/19/82. Its a top 10 tag match for the 80s imo and absolutely essential viewing, wrote about it as well:
Spoiler for Review:
Terrific shout as a 1982 MOTYC. This is classic tag team wrestling done to perfection and worked in traditional southern tag formula which is by far the greatest tag team formula. This is wild, chaotic and features a tremendous FIP segemnt as well as continuing the Mantell vs Eaton feud.
Opening 5 or so minutes of this is standard STF practice. Eaton wants no part of Mantell and does his best to avoid him from the get go, including backing further from the apron when a lock up brings Mantell closer to Bobby's corner. Sweet Brown Sugar (later known as Koko B Ware) was terrific early on eating all the babyface offence terrificly and getting some huge air on his bumps. There's a couple of great spots early on with Mantell charging after Eaton through the ring and around ringside and the highlight is probably Bobby locking up with King Cobra, being forced into Dutch's corner and then running for his life like a white man in downtown Detroit as Dutch sprints into the ring. Whilst all this is going on Cobra is dropkicking Sugar for fun and the whole match is impossible to keep track of. They continue the faces having the heel's number and Sugar being isloated as Bobby wants no part as long as Dutch is breathing and we then get a terrific miscommunication spot:
Mantell and Cobra have no love loss for one another and when Dutch accidentally rocks Cobra with a right hand they do a terrifc tease of their history getting in the way with Dutch blowing off Cobra who appears pissed and wants an explanation. Just as Bobby and Sugar are rejoicing at the prospect of the faces costing each other the match Dutch and Cobra sucker the heels and charge full sprint for their corner and once again Dutch ends up chasing Bobby round ringside who finally packs himself a chair for protection.
We then get the heel transition spot as Mantell runs the ropes only for Bobby to knee him in the back like a cheapshotting sleazeball and Bobby is tremendous here smelling blood like a shark as he gets in his kicks and punishment on a wounded Mantell. He throws some terrific punches which Mantell bumps tremendously for and we get awesome heel tag team work from Eaton & Sugar: taunting Cobra so he gets in the ring allowing them to jump in and out without tagging as well as beating down Mantell 2 on 1. Countless cheapshotting and taunting the crowd and double elbows, there's one terrific spot where they hit 3 elbows in succession and Jimmy Hart is leaping 7 ft in the air for each one
. We get a failed tag as Mantell tags in Cobra but Bobby has the ref distracted as well as Mantell hitting a gorgeous sunset flip only for Bobby to boot him in the face like a smug prick.
Mantell finally makes the hot tag to a huge pop (crowd were insane during the heat segment) and Cobra comes in like a house on fire throwing rights and insane dropkicks. Eaton cheapshots Mantell again whilst he's defenceless and Mantell says 'fuck this' and picks up a friggin bullrope and swings it at Eaton as hard as he can. The ref throws the match out and Sugar takes a ridiculous over the top rope bump to avoid the bullrope, it was hilarious as was his dancing to avoid it earlier.
Terrific match which featured classic STF tag team wrestling with the faces outsmarting and outwrestling the heels early on, the Dutch vs Bobby angle being furthered at every opportunity, Sugar bumping like a freak and them managing to tie in the rocky relationship between the face tag team. No qualms with anyone ranking this MOTY for 82, fuck I may have it #1 myself.