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#1 ohtani's jacket

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Posted 24 January 2013 - 07:54 PM

Not many people mentioned him in the top US workers thread and I'm not sure what his own rep is with me, so here we go, as much as the internet allows: Harley Race vs. Giant Baba, AJPW 12/9/75 I liked the way Harley and Baba communicated the size difference here. Harley's early ducking and weaving was cool and I thought his wrestling stance was rad, but for a former NWA heavyweight champion he sure went into the opening exchanges half-cocked. Why he tried attacking Baba off the ropes is something only Race would've been able to explain after the match. Baba controls the early portion of the match on the mat and it's not very interesting. I liked all the stuff inbetween the matwork, but the holds themselves were boring. For a while I was trying to convince myself that it was all a game of human chess instead of "get up, work a spot, go back to the mat" over and over again, but neither guy's selling was good enough to justify all that laying around. Harley sweat a lot, but Baba's selling was crap. I liked his offence a lot, but neither of them were interested in staying on the attack. Race had this kind of cool strategy going where he was trying to KO a downed Baba, but he didn't stick with it. After all those resets, they tried turning it into a barn burner of sorts with some high impact spots and a kind of unnecessary bladejob from Race, but I wasn't buying that tempers had flared or that shit was real. Bit of a so-so match, really. One thing I noticed, perhaps after seeing the awesome photoshop stuff, is how awesome his knee drop is. Man is that beautiful. He seemed to really over do the headbutts, though. It was often difficult to understand why he was doing a standing diving headbutt as though it were a regular strike. And I can see that his signature miss from the top rope is going to be a reoccuring annoyance.

#2 Dylan Waco

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Posted 24 January 2013 - 07:57 PM

Harley Race v. Crusher Blackwell - St. Louis 11/16/84 On paper this has a dream match quality to it, but it doesn't quite hit that level. This does feature some amusing Blackwell posturing, one of the better weeble/wobble Blackwell sell jobs I've seen and a Blackwell dropkick. Blackwell's selling when on the defensive is good and Harley doesn't look bad per se, but the energy in this feels off until Harley hits his suplex and comes up selling his back which results in a near fall that the crowd really buys into. Race does take a big flopping bump of his own when Blackwell makes his comeback and we get the great image of Blackwell laying slouched in he corner after the charge like a morbidly obese guy at sizzler going into diabetic shock. Blackwell his a one armed suplex and sets up for his splash but Race moves out of the way. Race ends up hitting a huge deep slam that looks absolutely awesome and gets a massive pop. Seriously this is one of the better slams I've ever seen in a wrestling match in terms of impact and the near fall off of it is incredible. Harley ends up going for a press, but Blackwell catches him and hits a sick falling powerslam before getting his legs all the way up on the top rope to steal the fall. This was slow evolving but the milking of the big moves was excellent and what they were able to do with so little in terms of time/spots in the ring was really impressive. This is better than some of the Blackwell matches on the AWA Set, though by no means would it be in his top tier.

#3 Graham Crackers

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Posted 24 January 2013 - 10:01 PM

Harley Race is someone who I'm not a fan of but has definitely had matches and performances I've really liked so he isn't completely worthless. In terms of 70s Race, I liked the Lawler match but I don't remember anything else that stood out. I know I've watched most of the 70s Race on ditch's site but none of those matches ring a bell looking at the list now. I didn't like him on the AJPW set. The Baba matches from 1980 were fun but neither made the top half of my ballot and his other matches were much lower than that. I just found him boring and I could really see the MOVES complaints when watching him there, especially against Jumbo. Meanwhile I loved the Kevin Von Erich match from the Texas set but I wasn't wild about the Iceman King Parsons match. The Rick Martel match from the AWA set was fun but didn't blow me away either. Maybe my opinion will change with the Territories and Crockett sets but I've seen a few too many listless Race matches to think that I'll ever view him as a GOAT level worker or on a top ten American wrestlers list.

#4 ohtani's jacket

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Posted 24 January 2013 - 10:10 PM

Harley Race vs. Terry Funk, 2/6/77 Difficult to judge without seeing the full thing, but what's shown isn't that good. Funk does all the best spots and has the best selling. The only real highlight is the headscissors and that's not much of a highlight. Harley's celebration is a bit naff, but authentic in away. Harley Race vs. Dick Murdoch, 7/2/78 Can't make head nor tail of whether this was any good, but the stretch where Harley was in control was significantly better than when Murdoch was on top. Murdoch's selling was awesome as usual and there was a great brain buster nearfall, but mostly it was standard touring champ stuff. Harley Race/Masked Superstar/Ric Flair vs Blackjack Mulligan/Dick Murdoch/Wahoo McDaniel Fun clip. The heels were mostly bumping and stooging ala rudos in a trios match. Harley got in a bit of offence towards the end, but he was mostly clowning around. His clowning wasn't as good as the very best, but decent enough. Anyone who thinks it didn't match Arn's character will be surprised by Race, though, as it was full on comedy. Never really realised how cut Flair was in the 70s, either.

#5 Cross Face Chicken Wing

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Posted 24 January 2013 - 10:12 PM

I've always enjoyed Harley. His serious and no bullshit style resonates with me. However, I do feel like I need to see more of him. A proper comp would be nice, but I'm not sure if there's enough 70s footage out there.

#6 ohtani's jacket

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 01:55 AM

Harley Race vs. Ricky Steamboat x2 Clips from the Mid-Atlantic area. The first clip is actually quite long, but it's only interesting when Steamboat is laying in the chops or the two are brawling on the outside. Once again, the build features Harley's opponent controlling things on the mat. That hasn't been an interesting build so far. The second clip is shorter and basically captures the more exciting parts of the match. I never realised how much punch drunking selling Harley did. He took some really exaggerated bumps too. Makes me wonder who initiated that method of selling. Steamboat seemed to do a lot more punch combos in the 70s. He had one punch combo spot that almost looked like a Dusty Rhodes inspired Dick Murdoch hip swivel. The crowd are really behind Steamboat in the shorter match and get embroiled in the Dusty finish. Fun clip, but nothing Flair didn't do better. This isn't going too well for Harley right now.

#7 Steve Gennarelli

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 07:06 AM

He was one of those guys who came off real in the ring. The only negative thing I could say about Harley is that the NWA went with him as champion for too long. Whoever was making the decisions, Sam Muchnick, Jim Barnett or a group of them together had this antiquated mindset that the champ had to be a shooter and Harley was the man for the job. I remember losing interest in wrestling sometime around the end of 1980 (after the Bruno/Zbyszko feud ended) and I was looking at the magazines periodically around '83 and couldn't believe that Harley was still champion when there all of these new young guys who the promotions could have built themselves around. Vince won the wrestling wars for many reasons but among them, knew how to balance the young stars with the veterans and knew who he could value out of by pushing them.

#8 MJH

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 09:25 AM

Harley is the only guy I've ever seen work the babyface base hold shine routine with any logic. I'm talking about the Jumbo match from '77. They work a pattern into the headlock, I think a dropkick, followed by a slam, followed by the headlock takedown. On the third, after the dropkick and the slam, Jumbo does away with the headlock you're expecting and goes for the double-arm suplex, obviously a much bigger move. Maybe it was Jumbo's idea, we have no way of knowing, but I've seen neither guy repeat it in any other match, and the base hold thing was NWA schtick 101 (it's like 80% of Dory/Inoki as I remember it). Why it's never been nicked, I don't know; why it was only used once, I have no idea; but it's such the ideal way to work it.

#9 jdw

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 06:43 PM

Harley Race vs. Giant Baba, AJPW 12/9/75


This is a prime example of Race being boring working holds forever. Track down their Oct-31-1979 match. Baba is "older and slower and more awkward" for all the folks who don't like him, but it's a better example of them doing what one would expect out of the two. Not a MOTYC or anything, but again... what you would expect out of the two working a title match rather than the two trying to fill a 30 minute tourney draw.

John

#10 ohtani's jacket

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 06:43 PM

Harley Race vs. Giant Baba, AJPW 10/31/79 Fuck the headlock work in these matches is bad. I don't see how it can be defended. The first ten minutes of this are a complete waste of time, then Harley takes over on offence around the time that TV joins and the match suddenly becomes good. Moves, a real fight, excitement. The outside brawling and blood add to the drama here and this back and forth action was the best Harley's looked so far.

#11 jdw

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 07:06 PM

Harley Race vs. Giant Baba, AJPW 10/31/79

Fuck the headlock work in these matches is bad. I don't see how it can be defended. The first ten minutes of this are a complete waste of time,


I'd defend it. There's plenty in the first 10 minutes that I like about it, including the head lock stuff. Actually thought they worked the headlock better for filling time than most matches of the era.

John

#12 goodhelmet

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 07:16 PM

Harley might go higher on my list of favorites just because of the photoshop thread here on the board. Fucking pigtails and scaffolds.

#13 ohtani's jacket

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 07:44 PM

Harley Race vs. Giant Baba, AJPW 10/31/79

Fuck the headlock work in these matches is bad. I don't see how it can be defended. The first ten minutes of this are a complete waste of time,


I'd defend it. There's plenty in the first 10 minutes that I like about it, including the head lock stuff. Actually thought they worked the headlock better for filling time than most matches of the era.

John


Why did they need to fill time in a match that went less than 20 minutes? Were they really filling time? Because this seems to be the way they started every match, which to me suggests it's not filler so much as a standard part of the match structure. But if it was filler then why did it have to last half the match and doesn't it give the impression that the two halves of the match are disjointed. My gripe was that Baba didn't wrench the hold, Harley didn't try to reverse it and they basically lay in the hold until it was time to stand up and do a spot. There wasn't a hell of a lot of activity or movement or selling to keep it interesting. Not like a Backlund match, for example.

It doesn't seem like Harley was all that great on the mat and his punch drunk stuff kind of ruins the image of him as a straight shooter, legit tough guy. His true calling seems to have been as a brawler.

#14 jdw

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 08:19 PM

Why did they need to fill time in a match that went less than 20 minutes?


In that era, pretty much every match of that length would have a body of the match where they filled time. Have you seen a lot of non-stop spot-a-thons in the 1975-83 time frame where no one grabs a hold? Would love some examples, and also what % of matches you think they amount to.


Were they really filling time?


Of course. All matches generally fill time: the workers generally know how long they're going to go when they go out there. Do you think that Baba and Race went out there not knowing whether they'd go 5 minutes or 57?


Because this seems to be the way they started every match, which to me suggests it's not filler so much as a standard part of the match structure.


Race likes to work headlocks... though of course he likes to work front face locks like he did forever with Baba in the earlier match and with Lawler in the 60 minute match. It's a way he likes to fill time rather than starting off with 5 minutes of going through all his moves and feeding his opponent five minutes of moves back.


But if it was filler then why did it have to last half the match and doesn't it give the impression that the two halves of the match are disjointed.


I haven't a clue what you're talking about. Lots of matches well into the 80s are like that, probably into the 90s, and probably into the 00s and 10s: people do shit, then move onto other shit. People get all worked up about Juniors matches where they do a bunch of mat shit for 10 minutes, admit that it's reasonably well done, but are annoyed because it's blown off for that 8 minute run to the finish. It's been common for ages.

Often it's even longer in the first half (say 15 minutes of a 20 minute match), and shorter down the stretch (the last 5 minutes of hot shit to the finish).

Even in this case, they were breaking up the headlocks with various things before taking it back down. Which again is something I suspect you see all the time: grab a hold, break the hold, highspot or two, take it back into the hold, wash, rinse, repeat.

Hell... Steamboat and Savage did that with the arm-drag-fu before later moving into the Big Moves/Spots.


My gripe was that Baba didn't wrench the hold,


He wrenched the fuck out of the hold, leaning back on the ground (even leaning back so his own ass was off the mat), and torqued it often while up. I'm willing to bet that I can find at least 10 different times that he wrenched / torqued / pressured / worked the hold.


Harley didn't try to reverse it


Really? He reached for the hair several times, including the ref slapping the hand away. He also "reversed" it at least twice over into pin attempts. He also one attempted to use a backdrop suplex to get out, which Baba nicely countered the counter with a headlock tackover.

Harley isn't really a "reverse" guy like The Destroyer, and instead typically does what I call the Mid Atlantic Escape: getting to your feet and moving your opponent back into the ropes. This can be used to do a whip into the opposite ropes, or "force a break" which leads to a typical heel spot of taking advantage of the face breaking the hold while up against the ropes.


and they basically lay in the hold until it was time to stand up and do a spot.


Take it down. Work it. Pick it up. Spot(s). Take it down. Work it. Pick it up. Take it down.

They actually broke up the headlock section more than a lot of folks. Seriously, watch some Lazy Muraco Matches for a guy really laying around and not even wanting to break it up with a high spot.


There wasn't a hell of a lot of activity or movement or selling to keep it interesting.


There was a fair amount of activity. I'd be happy to chart all of it. What's the over/under that I need to break in those first 10 minutes? 20 bits of activity? That's every 30 seconds, which is a pretty low standard. 30?


Not like a Backlund match, for example.


Backlund is a different beast in working holds than Harley. I don't think anyone would compare them.

This is more along the lines of what Flair would do.


It doesn't seem like Harley was all that great on the mat and his punch drunk stuff kind of ruins the image of him as a straight shooter, legit tough guy. His true calling seems to have been as a brawler.


I don't think anyone ever said Harley was a great mat worker.

He was a great bumper, stooged great, had loads of moves that he could drop on a face, was pretty much willing to do whatever an opponent wanted to do to him (and fed him a few things), he certainly could brawl.

Harley's true calling was as a pro wrestling performer. There is no one size fits all for it.

John

#15 ohtani's jacket

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Posted 26 January 2013 - 12:31 AM

Why did they need to fill time in a match that went less than 20 minutes?


In that era, pretty much every match of that length would have a body of the match where they filled time. Have you seen a lot of non-stop spot-a-thons in the 1975-83 time frame where no one grabs a hold? Would love some examples, and also what % of matches you think they amount to.


I've only seen British heavyweight and catchweight contests of late and apart from some of the slower matches with workers with little charisma I can't think of any matches where the matwork was as boring as Harley and Baba. Of course, British wrestling used the rounds system which is structurally very different from what Race and Baba were doing at the time, the holds they used were a lot more interesting than Baba and Race were capable of or would want to do, British wrestling was far more vaudevillian, and you had Kent Walton to make things like the "undressing" of holds seem exotic, but on the whole they were a lot better at mat wrestling providing one isn't turned off by the idiosyncrasies. I've seen Rocco and Jones go at an amazing pace mid-70s, as well as numerous British lightweights. The Joshi girls worked up tempo, as did the New Japan juniors, but those are lower weight classes so it's not a great comparison. The lucha available from the late 70s via Japan and the early 80s via Mexico smokes the matwork in Race/Baba. I don't know what the % of up tempo matches was in that time frame compared to the grab a hold matches, I'd be more interested in how good it was when they did grab a hold.

They could have shaved some of the time off the front of this, started brawling earlier and had an even better match. The headlock stuff was completely unnecessary. Looking at it as smart or effective time killing may be one way to enjoy a match, but personally I don't get my jollies over smart and effective time killing especially in a match that isminutes shy of being a sprint by NWA title match standards.


Of course. All matches generally fill time: the workers generally know how long they're going to go when they go out there. Do you think that Baba and Race went out there not knowing whether they'd go 5 minutes or 57?


I think they would've done their headlocks whether they were going five minutes or fifty seven. That's why I questioned whether they were really filling in time. It seems to me that working headlocks was how Race thought a match should start and that it really had nothing to do with filling in time but with starting a match. We could perhaps call it the old "baking a cake" theory after that strange promo Backlund cut during the Adonis feud.

Race likes to work headlocks... though of course he likes to work front face locks like he did forever with Baba in the earlier match and with Lawler in the 60 minute match. It's a way he likes to fill time rather than starting off with 5 minutes of going through all his moves and feeding his opponent five minutes of moves back.


He liked to work headlocks, all right. That explains it, but it doesn't settle the issues of a) whether it was any good and B) whether it had to be headlocks. Don't you think he could've worked a bit like Stan Hansen? Hansen would grab a hold, but he'd also work guys over with his elbows and knees. Harley had one of the best kneedrops in the business and cool offence, which he'd sometimes do between headlocks, but instead of controlling the opening portions of matches he was often the guy on the receiving end of the headlocks and to me it just didn't play to his strengths. When he takes over a match offensively things pick up for me, but working from beneath he is one of the least interesting guys from his era and my only hunch is because he wasn't that good at selling.

But if it was filler then why did it have to last half the match and doesn't it give the impression that the two halves of the match are disjointed.


I haven't a clue what you're talking about. Lots of matches well into the 80s are like that, probably into the 90s, and probably into the 00s and 10s: people do shit, then move onto other shit. People get all worked up about Juniors matches where they do a bunch of mat shit for 10 minutes, admit that it's reasonably well done, but are annoyed because it's blown off for that 8 minute run to the finish. It's been common for ages.


The first half of the match is Baba and Race working in and out of a headlock for ten minutes. The second half of the match is a brawl with a decent amount of blood. The only thing that connects them is that after 10 minutes Race decides instead of taking Baba to the mat he'll start doing some moves. There is nothing in the first half of the match that causes it to escalate into a brawl. The first half of the match could be the first ten minutes of a sixty minute draw for as much as it relates to the last ten minutes. If you want to connect the two you could probably come up with an explanation. I just think it's lousy wrestling.

Even in this case, they were breaking up the headlocks with various things before taking it back down. Which again is something I suspect you see all the time: grab a hold, break the hold, highspot or two, take it back into the hold, wash, rinse, repeat.

Hell... Steamboat and Savage did that with the arm-drag-fu before later moving into the Big Moves/Spots.


Sure you see it a lot. You also see them work the mat for an age, drop it completely, then go to the ropes for a finish in this era. Does that make it good? The era has a lot of bad tropes. We can accept them, sure, but I'm looking for an argument as to why they're good.

He wrenched the fuck out of the hold, leaning back on the ground (even leaning back so his own ass was off the mat), and torqued it often while up. I'm willing to bet that I can find at least 10 different times that he wrenched / torqued / pressured / worked the hold.


If that's wrenching the fuck out of a hold, I'd hate to see what he'd do to a guy's head if he really bothered to pull. if you can find 10 times where he worked the hold in a demonstrative way go ahead.


Really? He reached for the hair several times, including the ref slapping the hand away. He also "reversed" it at least twice over into pin attempts. He also one attempted to use a backdrop suplex to get out, which Baba nicely countered the counter with a headlock tackover.


I'll go back and see if I'm wrong.

Harley isn't really a "reverse" guy like The Destroyer, and instead typically does what I call the Mid Atlantic Escape: getting to your feet and moving your opponent back into the ropes. This can be used to do a whip into the opposite ropes, or "force a break" which leads to a typical heel spot of taking advantage of the face breaking the hold while up against the ropes.


Again, how is that good? Why would Baba allow that to happen and what is Race supposed to be doing in the time it takes him to get up and push the guy into the ropes? I mean in a kayfabe sense, not in the sense of filling in time. It could be worked so much better than that.

There wasn't a hell of a lot of activity or movement or selling to keep it interesting.


There was a fair amount of activity. I'd be happy to chart all of it. What's the over/under that I need to break in those first 10 minutes? 20 bits of activity? That's every 30 seconds, which is a pretty low standard. 30?


Go ahead and chart it.

Not like a Backlund match, for example.


Backlund is a different beast in working holds than Harley. I don't think anyone would compare them.

This is more along the lines of what Flair would do.


Is Backlund being a different beast at working holds meant to mean Backlund is better at working holds? Flair strikes me as better than Harley as well.

#16 ohtani's jacket

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Posted 26 January 2013 - 01:11 AM

Went back and watched the first ten minutes. Will add the following comments: * I'll concede that Harley at least did some selling in the hold. Don't know that I'd call it great but he was kicking the mat with his foot, reaching for the hair, trying to turn onto his stomach and there were a couple of reversals into a pin attempt. The bare minimum perhaps, but it was there. * I liked the stuff in between the holds more than I remembered. Dug all the headbutts and the big fuck off shot from Baba. Baba countering the two Race nearfall attempts worked well as did his one big nearfall. Would like to have seen more headbutts and selling off strikes rather than going back to the headlock, but it worked well on the one big takedown Baba did. * Baba torqued it. Technically it's true. I think it was a gentle looking headlock and I think Harley put it over way too much as being so strong that he couldn't really move in it, but I don't want to argue the point. Baba grimaced a bit in the final headlock segment, which I guess counts as decent selling. * The headbutts, the scoop slam thing Baba did, the stomp to the gut and the general frustration Harley must have felt about being in Baba's vice are all plausible reasons why it descended into a brawl. It could've been done better, but it wasn't as bad as i was making out. * The final headlock segment was the real offender. I think it went on for too long and the Mid-Atlantic escape was weak. * In general, I would have prefered to have seen Harley try to struggle to his feet, get countered back to the mat, struggle to stand up some more, then work a spot off the ropes before getting countered back to the mat, and I think Baba should have leaned into the hold a lot more and been more aggressive with Harley trying to break free far more vigourously, but I can see myself being the only one with those complaints and others thinking it's not that bad. * Wasn't as boring as I said and wasn't indefensible. Wouldn't call it good, but had parts I liked. Probably a case of me not liking the headlock as the base hold. I'm keen to see how Jumbo and Harley work it.

#17 ohtani's jacket

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Posted 26 January 2013 - 07:35 AM

Harley Race vs. Jumbo Tsuruta, AJPW 6/11/77 I guess it's been more than a decade since I last saw this, which is kind of scary. Watching it at the time, it was kind of this big eye opener to 70s wrestling and Jumbo Tsuruta. It was never going to be as special this time, but I still liked it a lot. I was surprised by how much of the match Race gave to Jumbo. It seemed like Jumbo had a ton of offence and I was impressed by how varied it was. With the focus on Jumbo's youth and athleticism, it felt like a different kind of Race match than I'm used to and I thought at times that it seemed a step down from an NWA heavyweight title match in terms of intensity. It kind of felt like more of a UN Championship level match, but that may have been the impression that Jumbo's youth gave me. The shortish lengths to the falls also added to that impression. The difference in intensity wasn't bad, however. I liked the pace of the action here and I thought they did a good job with the narrative structure over three falls. It was pretty much a well booked, well worked match in general. Jumbo came out of the match looking strong and Race showed his chops as champ. I don't know if it's Race's best match from the 70s, but it's the leading contender at present. Loved that Indian Deathlock once he got it on.

#18 Tim Evans

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 12:07 AM

Harley Race vs Miguel Perez Jr WWC 1990 I had no idea Harley actually wrestled after leaving WWF in 90. This isn't bad as it basically turns into a brawl with fans throwing trash and Race slaming Perez on a table. Plus for a guy that is injured, Race takes a flair bump over the turnbuckle onto the floor.

#19 ohtani's jacket

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 05:53 AM

Harley Race vs. Giant Baba, AJPW 11/7/79 This was more of the same from Baba and Race. I suppose if you're a stickler for detail you could notice some differences but I was more caught up in his wife and son at ringside which led me to research how many times he'd been married, how many children he'd had and other points of distraction. Baba did do a type of Lou Thez press thing that I don't remember him doing in the first match, but I don't know what I'd give him points for it. I don't get why Race bladed in each of these matches. I guess he thought it was dramatic, but he doesn't come across as much of a storyteller to me. I think I'd take the Inoki/Hansen series over Baba/Race.

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Posted 29 January 2013 - 07:15 AM

Harley Race vs. Ric Flair, 3/8/84 I guess this was more of an angle than a match, but it was great stuff. I almost didn't watch it because I thought "oh, this is the one with Missing Link," but after watching Harley take all those headbutts and how well he sold the beating I was pretty hooked. The match itself turns into a war and we get a good look at the headbutt as weapon. Finally, I felt like I was watching the real Harley Race. To me he looks like an ex-navy guy who should be reliving bar fights he had in Saigon or the Philippines every time he steps in the ring. Flair was great in this too and it feels like he might be Race's best match-up. The finish sees Missing Link interfere again, but as an angle it made sense for him to screw Race so I was okay with it. I liked how they had the credits foll over Race kicking ass and Flair doing an awesome turnbuckle flip with the crimson mask. Harley Race vs. Ric Flair, 8/31/83 Great TV title match. Again I was struck by the awesomeness of the headbutt. The cut-off spot that Harley does in this match with his headbutt is phenomenal. Another thing that impressed me was Flair's vertical suplex. Jerry mentioned recently that Flair had some of the best execution ever and I was a bit skeptical because Flair's not a guy I think of when I think great execution, but the vertical suplex he does on Race in this match is amazing for the length he holds him up there. It's a bout with lots of little touches like that. The ending was kind of a predictabe way to end something like this that they were throwing out on TV, but Harley laughing and twisting his moustache like a silent film villain while Flair was laid out was a satisfying way to end the show and this really made me want to watch the Starrcade match. Harley Race vs. King Kong Bundy, WCCW 8/15/82 I've never really watched any of Bundy's matches before. Was he always this good pre-WWF? Because he seemed pretty damn good to me. This was another great match from post-70s Race, which made me wonder whether this is the period of Harley's I like most. This wasn't quite as much of a brawl as the Flair matches, but compelling nonetheless. The Bundy control segments where a lot better to me than Baba's control segments and Race sold and paced the match well. The only trouble was the ending. They worked this so well that a title switch felt like a real possibility -- it wasn't because it had been pre-announced that one of the Von Erichs was getting the next title shot -- but it seemed like the title switch was on, so they had to end it with a screwy finish. Screwy finishes worked in the first two matches I watched but this one was a bit of a disappointment. Still, a cool run of Harley matches.




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