Ray Stevens & Nick Bockwinkel
Posted 24 February 2015 - 07:58 PM
This is from Chicago at the Amphitheatre, Luce tape with Luce on commentary. Faces work over Bock to start. Stevens tags in and does the same. Essentially Bock and Stevens have just been stooging for Crusher for three minutes. Eventually the transition comes and double team the Crusher. Doesn't last long though and soon he's punching out Bock. Slams his head on the mat. Double noggin knocker. Luce is going on about how The Crusher loved pizza!
Must have been clipped to death this, but the Crusher looked terrible even in 71. Didn't really see a whole lot of Bock and Stevens, just some stooging and selling.
Ray Stevens & Nick Bockwinkel vs Bruiser & Crusher (No DQ/World Tag Titles) (6/30/73)
Greg Gagne tells us that Bock and Stevens had held the titles for a record three years at this point. Verne is there too. This is Chicago, Amphitheatre again. It seems that Greg and Verne recorded this commentary in 2001 and they take every opportunity to bury the WWF's current product. As an interesting bit of trivia, Bobby Heenan, who was Bock and Stevens's manager, was barred from ringside tonight. This is 2 out of 3 falls.
Bruiser beats up Stevens for the first minute or so, and then settles into a surf board. Double thumb to the eyes by Crusher from the outside while Stevens is still in the surf board. Bock in and he gets double teamed by Crusher and Bruiser.
Over five minutes in and the heels have had absolutely nothing so far. This is the typical AWA extended shine sequence. Slam by Bruiser, stomp from the second rope by The Crusher. Double stomach claw by the faces leads to a submission for the first fall.
Crusher makes a cover at the start of the second fall and Bock makes the save. There's our transition to loud boos. Stevens chokes out Crusher. Eye gouge. Crusher comes back with an Irish whip. Bruiser on the outside sneak attacks Bock. Heels on the back foot yet again. In eight minutes, they've so far had two offensive moves between them and both of them super cheap.
Bruiser works over Bock some more. Offense is very basic. Stomps. Foot on the rope across the chest. Heels finally get a bit of offense in and double team Crusher, who has caught colour from the few punches in the corner. Bock sends Crusher into the turnbuckle for an Irish whip and Stevens catches him with a SWEET punch which seems to knock him clean out. Bock covers for the 1, 2, 3 and 1-1.
Crusher is really gushing. Bock attacks the cut with punches and a bite. He comes back with a double nogging knocker and the faces isolate Bock in their corner. Crusher with rabbit punches on Bock. Collision spot. Bruiser covers Stevens and Bock saves. Stevens is busted open now. Bruiser covers, Bock saves again and drags Stevens back over to his corner. Bruiser dumps Stevens. Punches on the outside. Double teaming on Stevens now. Bruiser covers, Bock sneaks up from the apron, grabs a pair of knucks from his tights and the heels retain with a cheap win. Post-match the faces beat up the heels to retain their heat. Ass-backwards psychology. Stevens is absolutely covered in blood.
We got double juice here, and this was a brawl, but fuck me Crusher and Bruiser SUCK. Their offense is so poor that there's really not a whole lot the heels can do to make them look good and they give nothing, and I mean NOTHING the other way. Easily my least favourite variety of babyface -- no-selling and limited offense.It also meant Bock and Stevens were just uber-cheap. So this was like a tag equivalent of something like Road Warrior Hawk vs. The Honktonk Man. My least favourite psychology for a match (i.e. super weak heels vs. super strong faces). The thing is though, even if Bock and Stevens had got on top, what could they have done? At least Crusher did a decent blade job.
Ray Stevens & Nick Bockwinkel vs Red Bastien & Billy Robinson (World Tag Titles) (??/72)
Think it's Greg and Verne on commentary again. JIP a couple of mins in. These guys wrestled loads of times, so not sure on the date, but Greg mentions it was 1972 and I believe him.
Bock is on offense and he's throwing some nice punches at Bastien. Bastien comes back, and he's got some good fire. Headbutt. Stevens and Robinson go at it while the two of them are locked up in the corner. Bastien has some great punches too. Bock has colour already. Another headbutt. Stevens in. He's got dark hair here. Bastien has Stevens up for a back suplex, but Bock sneaks in and pulls Bastien's leg tripping him over. Stevens lands on top for the three count.
Short match. We got to see more of Bock on offense here, although mostly punching. Bastien looked good. Didn't see anything of Robinson really.
Ray Stevens & Nick Bockwinkel vs Rusher Kimura & Great Kusatsu (AWA vs IWA Tag Titles from Japan) (11/21/74)
Incredible upgrade in video quality for this Japanese footage. Two out of three falls. Stevens with who I think is Kusatusu. Shoulder tackle. Kuatsu gets a wristlock synced in. He has a weird face and expression. Bock in. Shoulder block. Suplex by Kusatsu. Bulldog by Kimura!! Three count! Wow, that was some hot action! Kimura looks really good. Bock's selling exceptional.
Stevens checks on Bock for the second fall. Heels on top. Double gullotine on the top rope. Ref bump gets a laugh from the crowd. Not sure what happened there, but Bock and Stevens take a quick second fall. I think this must be heavily clipped.
Third fall and they dump Kimura to the outside. Bock with cheap offense on the outside as Stevens goes after Kimura. Double teaming now. Kusatsu comes in with a double noggin knocker. And we get the collision spot between Bock and Stevens again. They do the Bushwackers battering ram spot. Abdominal stretch on Stevens by Kusatsu. And that's a submission.
I'm not rating this, too clipped despite excellent VQ. But the finishing sequence of the first fall was really good and Kimura looked great.
Ray Stevens & Nick Bockwinkel & Bobby Heenan vs Brusier & Crusher (Bloody Cage Match) (??/ 75)
This is where Heenan tries to escape the cage to start. Greg on commentary and he goes through sporting events of 1975. Seems like this commentary is from 1987 because he mentions Hennig as World Champ. As per usual it's the faces just guzzling the heels. Finally after about three minutes (including clipping) the heels get some offense in and attack Crusher. He's got colour already. That's Crusher's one trick: he can blade.
Bock eats the cage. Crusher pins Bockwinkel. Bruiser still slugs it out with Stevens. Heenan is stranded on the turnbuckle. Crusher and Bruiser grab a leg each. And now the two bullies go to work on him. Crusher throws Heenan into the cage. Bock is covered in blood. We get a second pin somewhere. The faces have won the belt.
Blaahhhh, fuck Crusher and Bruiser. Crap.
Ray Stevens & Nick Bockwinkel vs The Crusher & Dusty Rhodes (World Tag Tiltles) (??/??/73)
Crusher is going to work on the heels as per usual. Pounding away. Bob Luce tells us that this was meant to be Bock and Stevens vs. Dusty and Billy Graham, but Graham didn't show up and Crusher came out in his street clothes as a stand in. He's pounding on Bock some more. Turnbuckle spots. Stomp. Bock has colour already. Big right by Crusher. Double nogging knocker. I couldn't hate Crusher more. Big right by Crusher. Bock is selling his ass off. Stomp on Bock's face by Crusher. Bionic elbow on Stevens by Rhodes, stomps by Crusher. Elbow drop by Dusty for the win. Dusty and Crusher spot Heenan creeping around and they go after the weasel. They beat him up, of course, in slow motion.
Jesus Christ I'm not sure if I can take this. Sorry khawk and friends but the AWA fucking sucked.
Ray Stevens & Nick Bockwinkel vs Brusier & Crusher (08/16/76)
Just the last three minutes. We actually get a backdrop by Bruiser here. Bock sells it like a champ. Crusher covers for three. Yawn. Hate. Hate. Hate.
Ray Stevens & Nick Bockwinkel Interview w/Bobby Heenan
Bock is World champ. Stevens has a moustache. Bock says he's not enamoured with Chicago. Heenan wants to know why there's no street parade for Bock winning the title. Okerlund was on this interview.
Ray Stevens & Nick Bockwinkel vs Red Bastien & Billy Robinson (11/6/73)
Starts with Bock on the mic. He's not happy with this match. Verne is there. He says last week he signed a contract and didn't read the small print! Headlock take over by Bastien on Stevens to start. Bodyslam on Bock. Uppercut. Robinson in. Commentary is absolutely appalling -- it's Marty O'Neill I think. Just really bad. Robinson goes to work on Bock. He looks good.
Heels isolate Robinson. Kneelift by Robinson on Bock. Bastien in. Double knee lift. Stevens kicks Bastien in the head. Rope running by him and Bock. Bock bails. Robinson goes for a Boston crab. Headlock by Bock. Stevens double teams him in the corner. Kip up by Robinson. Bastien back in. Some nice punches by Stevens. Bastien's punches are good, he's a solid fired up babyface. Dropkick by Robinson. Leg sweep by Robinson, butterfly suplex. Fucking cool. Bock in with the save. Punches Robinson out to the floor.
Stevens slams Robinson's head on the apron. Kicks him in the head. Bastien is mad. Goes over and nails Bock from the outside. Stevens in and chokes Robinson on the bottom rope. Robinson comes back. Headlock by Stevens and he tags out. Bock in and Robinson with some neat punches. Double teaming by the heels some more. Shoulder tackle by Robinson on Stevens and both men go down.
Bastien tags in. Two drop kicks and a big atomic drop on Stevens. Cover gets three. Faces go 1-0 up after ten minutes. Distinct lack of heat in this studio match.
Robinson in. Bock in. Big clothesline by Robinson. Bock kicks out of a cover at two. Slingshot spot by Bastien into elbow smashes by Robinson -- cool. Gnarly cover by Robinson. Bastien in with a punch and Boston crab. Stevens with a cheap shot to break it. Robinson in. Gutwrench suplex! Robinson was just cool as hell!
Stevens suckers Robinson into the corner and Bock smashes him. Sly double teaming in the corner some more. Bock in. Whips Robinson into the turnbuckle. Stevens in. Assisted backbreaker. Bock in. Bodyslam. Piledriver?? No, Robinson spins out. And again. Bastien in. Flying head scissors. Dropkick. Another one. Robinson in. Tilt-a-whirl backbreaker!! Wow, 2-0!! In about 15 minutes. Non-title bout mind. We get an interview with the faces and two old AWA codgers, one of them is Marty O'Neill, not sure who the other one is.
This was an enjoyable match. Bastien looked solid, Robinson looked FANTASTIC and Bock was typically great. Stevens felt like the weak link.
So this is a good look at Bockwinkel and Stevens. There is more to come, but right now I have to say that Stevens has been really disappointing. I can excuse him for not really showing much vs. Crusher and Bruiser. But in a 15-minute match against a quality opponent like Robinson (and Bastien, who looks pretty good himself), he showed me nothing really. Bock did the lion's share of the work, both in terms of selling and in terms of offense. Honestly, in all these matches it looked like Bock was carrying Stevens a good bit.
If Stevens really was the best worker in the world, it must have been in the 1960s because honestly from what I've seen of 70s workers he wasn't even close on this evidence. Really disappointing.
Bock was Bock.
Also, I HAVE to see more Billy Robinson. I think Robinson vs. Race from this era would have been a spectacular bomb fest.
Posted 26 February 2015 - 06:41 AM
Matt D sent me this and it seems like this is the oldest footage of Stevens we have on tape. We get a good ten minutes here, so at least we can get a sense of what he was like in the 1960s:
This is JIP after a first fall has already happened with Stevens (the heel) 1-0 up.
He takes a tumble to the outside, comes back in, begs off. Signiture turnbuckle bump. You can definitely see a lot of Ric Flair in what Stevens is doing here. One thing I've noticed about Stevens is that he does an awful lot of stooging and stalling. He's a very cheap heel with not a lot of offense.
He gets on top now and dumps Fredericks. Punches and chokes. Irish whip into the turnbuckle, and again but it's reversed. Fredericks comes back and pops the crowd. Big back drop. Cover gets two.
Goes to a time limit draw which the crowd boos. Fredericks kisses a kid on the way out. Interview after the match and Stevens is on to face Dominic Denucci next! I think this footage might be from Jim Barnett's Australian promotion. Stevens mentions cricket in the promo.
My impression of Stevens is that he was primiarily a bump machine. He didn't work a very technical style and in some ways is more of a brawler. He's a kind of scrappy cheating heel, all eye gouges, chokes, punches and rulebreaking. But mostly he bumps around for the babyface.
I suspect his rep comes from this ability to bump big. Wrestler most likely found him incredibly easy to work with.
But he's not a "smooth" wrestler like a Barry Windham or even, say, like Bock.
Let's watch another singles Stevens match before I get back to the rest of him and Bock:
Ray Stevens vs. Johnny Karisma (mid-70s)
This is from Roy Shires's San Francisco promotion where Stevens was a legend and of course a babyface by this point. Also ha ha Johnny "Karisma".
Arm drags by Stevens to start and he works an armbar. Side headlock by Karisma. Into a chinlock. Stevens escapes by choking him over the top rope and using a closed fist. Karisma goes to the arm. Works an armbar. Stomps and kicks on the arm. Have to say that Stevens is not doing a whole lot to sell this armwork.
Stevens counters the armwork with some of his own. But Karisma comes back. Batters Stevens's head into the turnbuckle. Stevens comes back with a turnbuckle spot of his own. Hammerlock by Stevens. This is more "scientific" from him. Boot to the arm. Karisma begs off. Comes back with a kick to the gut. Knee lift. Cover gets two.
Stevens comes back with punches. Dumps Karisma. He still works like a heel as a babyface, Johnny Sorrow would like that. Karisma begs off some more. Side headlock by Stevens. Karisma comes back with elbows. Stiff elbow by Stevens. Hip toss. Dropkick. Karisma bails. Roundhose right by Stevens. Karisma comes back. Irish whip. Atomic drop by Stevens gets the three. After the match Alexis Smirnoff runs in and beats up Stevens. Ah, the run-in, classic studio wrestling.
Shires interviews Smirnoff afterwards. He doesn't have a Russian accent. Or if he does it's pathetic. They show a clip of Stevens attacking Smirnoff at an arena show. I think it's Dino Bravo in the ring who'd lost a match with a hair stip. Back in the studio and Stevens has recovered. He chases Smirnoff off. Stevens says he's going to break both his arms and legs.
I thought this match was pretty listless and lacking in any sort of structure. It was just there. Karisma is clearly a limited heel, but Stevens had no real ideas to keep this match engaging and while his bumping is good, his selling just isn't there at all. He also has like zero offense beyond punches.
The San Francisco TV looks good though.
Posted 15 July 2017 - 10:27 AM
I'm really curious about the date of the bloody cage match with Heenan as their partner. I can't find a record of it anywhere. Not in Clawmaster's AWA results, Bockwinkel or Bruiser record books
Posted 16 July 2017 - 10:22 AM
Another question...10/7/72 Bockwinkel and Stevens defend the tag titles against Andre the Giant & Dr X (The Destroyer) in Chicago. Every result I see has the champs winning. I have 5 mins of footage that ends with Andre and Dr X getting their hands raised. Verne Gagne on commentary for AWA Classics, says that Dr X won the match with the figure four. But...you do not see the actual finish, it cuts away after he applies the spinning toehold. Does anyone know if it was a nontitle match, or what?
Posted 16 July 2017 - 07:02 PM
Possibly a 2/3 fall match and they showed the fall X and Andre won. Verne speaking of the result on the tape I wouldn't read too much into.
Also a belated F-U to JVK for his AWA sucked comment during one of his match reviews.
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