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Nick Bockwinkel


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#41 Superstar Sleeze

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Posted 17 May 2015 - 07:28 PM

Flair was 32 when he won it in '81 and Bock was 30 in 64. Bock was a nine year pro at that time and and Flair was a nine year pro. If your point was we are missing a TON of Bock I agree, but if it was he was challenging early in his career, it is really no different for Flair. 
 

I really, really, REALLY want to see Thesz vs Bock now. 



#42 Matt D

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Posted 17 May 2015 - 08:05 PM

Oh, I was just highlighting the years and years of main event level matches we don't have.



#43 El-P

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Posted 03 November 2015 - 06:45 AM

Bockwinkel is everything I would want from an old-school american pro-wrestler. He's been a joy to watch to me in the last few years. #10.



#44 Microstatistics

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Posted 09 January 2016 - 06:29 PM

Been watching a lot of his stuff recently and he is skyrocketing up my list. He is some kind of super worker to me: a fantastic heel champion, incredible on the mat, awesome brawler, can even high fly in his 50s, vicious when on offense and a really brilliant seller who makes all of his opponents look like a million bucks. I could see him finishing in my Top 5 in the final cut. It's either him or Terry Funk as my best US born pro wrestler.



#45 JerryvonKramer

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Posted 27 February 2016 - 05:17 PM

While we're talking about Flair's final placement, I thought this was a good moment to bump Bock here.

Here was his 2006 finish: Nick Bockwinkel 1,451 points - 24 votes - VHB SE Williams #11

I can't imagine the high vote on him will be an #11 here. He's in my top 10 for sure.

#46 Childs

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Posted 27 February 2016 - 05:31 PM

Yeah, he was 56, two spots ahead of Fujinami. Two guys who will likely rise bigtime because of the DVDVR project.

#47 InYourCase

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Posted 02 March 2016 - 10:13 PM

Watched a Bockwinkle/Choshu match from 84 or 85......I knew Bock was good, but he may have just become a #1 contender for me. I think I need to do an intensive Bock review.

Does anyone have a link to this match?



#48 GOTNW

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Posted 03 March 2016 - 05:48 AM



#49 Matt D

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Posted 09 March 2016 - 10:07 AM

A Case for Bockwinkel:

 

(I feel like it's a shame that people have already started voting. We just had a case for Michaels go up a couple of days ago and a case for Funk go up yesterday or the day before. We're in the final argument stage of things and parts of the jury are voting already. I'm going to try to rush this out then. I wish I could do try to match that great Satanico post, but no can do. It's a busy week, but here goes:)

 

There are so many things that Nick Bockwinkel did so well that it's hard to even know where to start. What I'd like to do, to begin, is list out his range, a number of roles that he was effective in playing, and that he was able to wrestle good to great matches (some all-timers) while achieving. This is in no order:

 

1. Bumping, stooging heel for aging legend (Vs Verne, Mad Dog, Crusher, Baron)

2. Bumping, stooging vulnerable champion for up and and coming Ace babyface (Vs Hogan)

3. Reluctantly cheered champion holding the line vs a foreign threat (Vs Al-Kassie)

4. Comedy kingpin with a bunch of goons vs Super-babyfaces (with Heenan family Vs. Andre and Hogan)

5. Heel champion Ace vs technical up and coming babyfaces (vs Rheingans)

6. Tag role of the same (With Stevens vs High Flyers)

7. Southern tag heel (w/Saito vs Gagnes or Hennigs, or High-flyers)

8. Confident heel champ vs established technical opponent (vs Martel)

9. Same as a heel challenger establishing said new babyface champ.

10. Vulnerable but dangerous heel champion against deadly brawler (vs Wahoo)

11. Travelling champ who underestimates local hero (vs Chavo)

12. Snobby outsider champ who DOESN'T underestimate local hero but has to have a number of varied matches with him without losing the title (vs Lawler)

13. Fiery babyface wanting revenge (crazy sprint vs Zbyszko)

14. John Wayne (vs Hansen)

15. Super technical in front of a Japanese audience (vs Funk and vs Robinson)

16. Aging, cagey veteran trying to survive against a young babyface slowly surpassing him (vs Hennig)

17. US Supermatch that has to end in a draw (vs. Flair)

18. Travelling heel champ stooging big for the local hero while staying credible (vs JYD)

19. Desperate heel up against monsters (the clips we have vs Andre or Ladd)

20. Very strong shorter match TV worker during the Showboat era (vs. Debeers)

 

And that's what we have from maybe 76-86, when he around 40 to just over 50. He spent decades of his career as a babyface. And there are more. I just picked twenty different in-ring functions that he had to do and had to do well, many of them calling upon different skills and talents, that involve someone actively wrestling differently. I could have given more examples of matches for almost every category too, with almost all of them being very good to great. That, to me is amazing. The only other people who would come close to this are #1 contenders, and almost all of those benefit from us having much more of their physical prime on tape or from working more broadly in multiple territories (though Bock, of course did. We just don't have a ton of that on tape; most of what we do is great).

 

He was able to accomplish this through deeply and thoroughly understanding pro wrestling and storytelling, through engaging the crowd, through knowing when to give and when to take, knowing how to maximize moments and momentum, to fully committing to his role at all times. He was incredible at portraying emotion in matches, jubilant when causing punishment and terrified when getting overwhelmed. He refused to let the crowd dictate what he was doing, but instead forced them into line with what was best for them and the match, adapting but never surrendering ("You're boring them Martel!" being my favorite single wrestling moment I've seen in the last five years, maybe?). 

 

Everything had purpose. There are wrestlers, great wrestlers, who can string more-or-less unrelated chapters together so that their matches are better than the sum of their parts, so that they make a symbolic, thematic, more or less satisfying whole, but Bockwinkel was able to relate the chapters to one another so that he never had to do that. There wasn't that need for symbolism because the text stood on its own. It was finding the perfect moment to turn the babyface's offensive rush into a King of the Mountain heat segment, or how to start countering one bit of bodypart work with the opposite equivalent, and so on. There's no sixty minute match I've ever seen which tells so involved a story as Hennig vs Bockwinkel. I've never been satisfied with the idea that wrestling isn't a good medium for storytelling, because I've seen it. That match shows that it's possible, and not just over ten minutes but over sixty, and that it can be the most compelling thing in the world. He created stories that mattered to people, that resonated, that moved them, and he made it seem so flawless and so natural. There was so much variation, too. I can barely wrap my head around how he managed it.

 

And of course the fundamentals were there. He bumps around the ring like a pinball for Verne Gagne. His long-term limb selling is exceptional, and he had a way of selling fatigue from a long match in the finishing stretch like almost no one else. I believe that selling is the key to creating meaning in wrestling and it's hard not to watch his performances and think that he'd been through a war and that maybe, just maybe, he was going to lose that title (and if he did, the babyface would have EARNED it). His matwork was wonderful, holds and counters, perfect timing, great facial expressions and trash talk, and screaming in pain when he was on the wrong end of it. His strikes were snug. His offense was varied. He moved in and out of holds so well in the opening segment of a match; there was such flow to it. He cheated extremely well (and man was he a great southern tag heel), and as a babyface, he could both garner sympathy and swallow the heel alive with righteous fury. That's the thing. he's not just a smart worker. He's a total package. At age 45, he could still outFunk prime Funk, outFlair prime Flair and even, at times, outHansen prime Hansen. But, almost always, he only goes to that level when it makes sense to go there, when the value is there, when the needs of the match calls for it.

 

I don't think it's a big spoiler. He's my #1. There are amazing wrestlers on my list in the #2-9 spots, some of the most talented, skilled, brilliant, sound, varied people imaginable, with hundreds of great matches to prove their worth. I just can't imagine any of them in that #1 slot instead of Bockwinkel.



#50 Childs

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Posted 09 March 2016 - 02:40 PM

I basically agree with everything Matt says about Bock, and it's astonishing he wrestled the majority of the matches that make his case after he turned 45. With all due respect to Tenryu and a few of the great maestro luchadores, nobody had a greater post-45 career than Bock. Given his intelligence and base skills, I'd be shocked if he wasn't at least a very good worker for 15 years before that. But I can't give him full credit for footage that isn't there, and it keeps him from being a No. 1 contender for me. He and Satanico are the two most frustrating cases that way, maybe Billy Robinson too. I know they were just as skilled as the guys I have in the top few spots. I suspect their output was comparable as well. But there's too much unknown for me to nudge them above comparable talents.



#51 Matt D

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Posted 09 March 2016 - 03:06 PM

I understand where you're coming from Childs, but for me, it's a non issue because of the fact we see him in so many roles. The evidence we have is exactly the evidence we need. In some ways it's easier for me to judge him than someone who played only a few roles in his career, but we have all of that career. We can see Bockwinkel from so many different angles, far more than most wrestlers we have many more years of, I'd say. We have evidence of him dealing with so many different wrestling challenges. For me, it's more than enough.



#52 Childs

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Posted 09 March 2016 - 03:41 PM

Question, Matt: If a guy convinces you he has a skill, do you care at all if he demonstrates it 100 times as opposed to 50 times?



#53 Matt D

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Posted 09 March 2016 - 04:09 PM

There is a far bigger difference between 3 and 50 and 50 and 100 to me, especially lacking evidence where he actively does NOT convince me.

#54 Jimmy Redman

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Posted 09 March 2016 - 04:44 PM

(I feel like it's a shame that people have already started voting. We just had a case for Michaels go up a couple of days ago and a case for Funk go up yesterday or the day before. We're in the final argument stage of things and parts of the jury are voting already. I'm going to try to rush this out then. I wish I could do try to match that great Satanico post, but no can do. It's a busy week, but here goes:)

 

To be fair, it is kind of our fault for leaving it this late.

 

And regardless of whether you change any minds or not, it's still a great read, and I'm still eager to read any cases people want to put forward for their guys.



#55 JerryvonKramer

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Posted 09 March 2016 - 04:58 PM

In some ways, I think Bock's case has the fewest weaknesses of any of the major #1 contenders.

Let's say he was 35 rather than 45 when he did all the stuff Matt listed, would we really care as much about the footage we don't have? I do think he has more than enough on tape.

More than any other guy I've ever seen, he was able to change his approach to a match to fit the context. So when he went to Japan and had long matches for Baba, he'd chain wrestle and work the mat (some people find that boring, but he could do it with the best of them). When he went to Memphis he was happy to brawl and work some schtick. When he has to work as a chickenshit against Hogan or Crusher or any other of Verne's monster babyfaces, he could do that. But when he had to work as a more dominant "master wrestler" type, or a sprint brawl, or a gimmick match of any sort, he could do that too.

Complete all-rounder and the closest thing to a wrestling "maestro" that there has been, in my view.

#56 Childs

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Posted 09 March 2016 - 06:01 PM

I don't think 45 vs. 35 matters as far as his taped output, which is on the low side compared to other top 20 guys. The absent footage looms larger because he had such a long career and we're missing what we presume to be his physical peak. But it's not the volume of what's missing that matters to me in the ranking; it's the volume of what we have. And when I compare him to a Flair or a Tenryu or a Hansen, he's lower on output.

 

I agree he's one of the most complete candidates in terms of demonstrated skill, and he's a top 20-guy for me, just not the No. 1 contender he probably would have been if we had a more complete accounting of his career.



#57 Matt D

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Posted 09 March 2016 - 06:15 PM

I've been very vocal about my issues with Hansen's physical peak, especially the "home promotion+physical peak+height of footage" conundrum, so that's fair. We don't know. From what we have, it's POSSIBLE that he spent his more of his physical prime giving too much to his opponents and bumping up and down like some sort of 1990 Mr. Perfect, and if we had it, it would hurt his #1 case (though not his #10 case or whatever). There are hints of that in his matches with Verne, but they're just hints and I feel mostly confident with the evidence we have.

 

Yes it's on the low side, but there are, as I said, lots of angles, and none of the glaring faults I, personally, find in a lot of the other #1 contenders. 

 

I completely respect and understand your opinion here though.



#58 Childs

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Posted 09 March 2016 - 06:20 PM

Yeah, it's not a criticism, more of a yearning, because I love the guy.



#59 JerryvonKramer

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Posted 09 March 2016 - 06:45 PM

I am of the view -- and I think it is probably controversial -- that if we had a more complete account of Bock's early career it would likely hurt his case because people would fall asleep watching it. People are ridiculously down on early 80s Jumbo, people do not have the patience for longer NWA-style bouts these days and complain that they are dry and boring. And I think Bock worked more like that in the 70s.

His tag stuff with Stevens in the 70s actually adds very little to his case, and I watched two discs worth.

#60 Grimmas

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Posted 10 March 2016 - 07:08 AM

Why can't we think of prime Bockwinkel as the 80s and treat 70s Bock like 2000s Flair?




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