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post #15057 of (permalink) Old 01-21-2013, 07:37 PM
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Re: Official DVD/Match/Show Discussion Thread

Koko Ware vs Ric Flair, NWA Heavyweight Championship, Memphis (11/18/85)


Great great title match with one of Koko's finest performances and Flair in arguably his career year. Loved all the little touches in this match, such as Koko wrestling a basic game and really putting in a masterclass 'fearless wrestler thrown into unfamiliar territory' performance and how Koko exploited the classic Flair flop by continually going for an immediate cover sensing Flair was sufficiently hurt. Early bulk of the match is worked beautifully with Koko having a counter for everything Flair throws at him and managing to not look outclassed by essentially just rolling out of any hold or grappling technique Flair tries to contain him. Loved how they built this into Flair taking breaks to the outside and re-group before suckering Koko with a knee to the gut and stiff chop to the throat to finally keep him down long enough to finally seize an advantage that had previously eluded him. Flair was his typically great self in control, pulling Koko's hair to keep him penned to the mat as he threatened to escape an armlock, kicking him in the midsection when the referee intervened to stop Koko repeatedly striking him in the corner and generally playing the arrogant and conceited champion to a tee.

Koko's comeback features some great punches and build to his patented dropkicks as well as a couple of strong nearfalls before the fuck finish with Dundee blasting Dusty on the outside giving Flair ample chance to escape a Koko pin, knee him in the ribs and then pull his foot off the rope at a count of two giving him the win with the ref unaware Koko's foot was on the rope. Very simple but well structured match designed to lift Koko to a higher level and make him look competent and dangerous hanging hold for hold with the champion and making Flair look opportunistic and dastardly in once again defying the odds and overcoming a crowd hero.

Jake Roberts vs Ric Flair, NWA Heavyweight Championship, Mid South (11/24/85)


Another great title match with a wonderful pre match angle and build surrounding Jake's DDT and its ability to finally put Flair away. Flair mocks and chastises Roberts pre match for his less than traditional ring attire which he deems improper for a title match only to antagonise Jake to the point where he DDTs him out of instinct and Flair sells it like death. With the bell having not rung we then get Flair selling the DDT for a couple of minutes, before falling out of the ring and eventually walking to the back outraged at Jake's supposed cheapshot and sly tactic. Watts gets on the mic and orders Flair back to the ring and we then get 17 minutes of great back and forth action with Jake constantly working over Flair's neck and trying for the DDT on multiple occasions, with Flair finding new counters to block Jake's decisive weapon.

Jake was great as the house on fire babyface bombarding Flair with an unstoppable onslaught and controls a great portion of the match with Flair largely on the defensive and displaying his resiliency and toughness in surviving everything Jake throws his way, before a desperation headbutt to the groin buys him some time and takes Jake down. From here Flair works a brief control segment before a wonderful spot where Jake catches the kneedrop and immediately transitions to a standing position to lock on the figure four which Flair sells like death. Both men then trade brief intervals of leg work with Flair looking progressively weaker and immobile with each passing moment, only for Jake's small package counter to the figure four being countered by Flair who uses the bottom rope for additional leverage and somehow again escapes with his reign intact. Also loved how they used the classic 'rule of threes' sequence with Jake hitting two big knee lifts at crucial points in the match, only to miss on the third attempt and eat a big bump that Flair would immediately capitalise on by going for the figure four. Also worth acknowlodging just how hot the Mid South crowd was for Jake the entire time, quite surreal when you factor in his notorious heel work.

Ted Dibiase vs Ric Flair, NWA Heavyweight Championship, Mid South (11/6/85)


Sadly this match only shows the match from the bell onwards instead of the entire pre match angle which may be the greatest face turn in wrestling history. Backstory: Dibiase from '83-85 was the main heel in Mid South with the fans clammoring for his blood whenever he and Duggan would meet. By fortune of circumstance he was able to get an NWA Title Match vs Flair, which marked arguably his greatest ever opportunity to win the big one. Pre match however Dick Murdoch sucker punches him and proceeds to give him a bloody beating with a stiff ring post spot and Dibiase bleeds on a scale not far from Eddie Guerrero at Judgement Day 2004. Rather than forfeit the match or let a fellow wrestler take his place, Dibiase fights on with a bloodied bandage over his cut as he recognises he may never get this opportunity again.

The actual match itself goes 7 minutes, but even without the pre match attack and subsequent story driven angle the ringwork here is exceptional. Dibiase gets in a good % of offence which makes sense as JR puts over his tenacity and what the belt means to Ted, and they time it just enough for his offence to come off as pure instinct and desperation as opposed to making Flair look weak. There's a blown abdominal stretch spot which comes off so organically with how much blood Dibiase has lost by that point and seeing him essentially collapsing onto Flair's prone body for a cover is a remarkable visual. Dibiase's babyface performance really can't be praised enough as he's constantly staggering and looking lethargic but valiantly fighting on through the pain whenever the ref threatens to throw out the match and the fans rally behind him so remarkably given his past convictions as the despicable heel of the territory. Finish is perfect with Dibiase eating a boot to the face and collapsing over the top rope to the floor and being unable to answer the count, before Murdoch arrives post match to hurt him some more and ends up giving him a brainbuster on the concrete floor.

Such a great angle to get Dibiase over as a face and get Murdoch and Flair nuclear heat, the prestige of the NWA belt looked at an all time high thanks to Dibiase's inspiring selling and heroic performance and JR is right on point in putting over Dibiase's passion and respect for the business and desire to win the belt regardless of what cost it may inflict on his health.
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