Match # 109: Koko B. Ware vs. Eddie Gilbert (2/28/86)
The first of four from the same Houston card. Four matches making it to a 150 match best of the decade review? Must have been a hell of a card. Then again, I’m sure a lot of great cards have happened over the years where no footage exists of each separate match, especially from the era before DVDs made indies into house show product salesmen.
Eddie Gilbert is a natural heel and he’s facing a familiar foe from Memphis (and my childhood), Koko B. Ware. Also the babbling Paul Boesch returns.
This match is definitely Memphis shenanigans and fun. Headlock escapes, bodyguard pep talks, hair pulling, and ref/crowd interactions. These matches always have minimal bumping and entertainment value. Smart work not only here, but from all the Memphis guys on the set. Koko was athletically gifted, and Gilbert knew how to bump and stooge, as they say. He also does the Memphis influenced upswing punches. The work isn’t of the technical sort, nor the bumps always believable, but it’s played as a pre-WWE product, and it gets over.
Gilbert’s abdominal stretch and rope grabbing heel stuff is good, and stablemate/bodyguard at least plays his part. All this makes Koko’s hope spots pretty over. Sunset flips never looked so good.
Like I said, match won’t blow you away, but it’s a match everyone should be lucky enough to see at their local indy show. The charisma of Koko and Eddie’s selling in the comeback is awesome. 12 minute match ends in a off the ropes drop kick finisher and pin. Koko wins.
I’m rewarding this match for going over ten minutes and not needing much fancy to keep me invested. I’m rewarding the fun heel spots and the great comebacks. I’m rewarding the story and the clean finish. But most of all I want to reward the characters and artists that Gilbert and Ware were. 3 ½ and 6.8/10.
Match # 110: Ted DiBiase, Dr. Death, Terry Taylor & Hacksaw Duggan vs. Dick Murdoch, Buzz Sawyer & The Masked Superstars (2/28/86
Damn! So looking forward to this and it’s joined in progress. Crowd is hot and Duggan is making the heels look like fools. What else is new? Apparently a sub-plot is Dick Murdoch, presumably a heel team captain, not tagging in to the match yet.
Needs to be mentioned: Doc’s wrestling trip takedown is beautiful, and he works out off his controlling headlock very well in these matches. Dibiase is smooth as all hell with his ropes running and fist drop.
I’m hoping the Masked Superstars stay color coded correctly here as I only know Bill Eadie has the red mask. Not sure who the partner in the golden mask is. Good touch of Dibiase staring at Murdoch before locking up with this “superstar” though. Hope they build to Murdoch and Dibiase hooking it up.
Faces rule the first five plus minutes including a fun grinding headlock chain as each face tags in and grinds a headlock on Superstar 2 and Buzz Sawyer. Crowd very hot for all the stars and I’m happy to report I figured out they only cut the first two minutes.
Murdoch vs Duggan. He gets his tights held and does a fun spot where the faces let him go right into a Duggan fist. Sawyer gets atomic dropped into the face corner and pinball bumps for them too. Sawyer is working for all these guys.
Great reversal about 7-8 minutes in and the heel team efficiently works. Again, I come from lates 80s watching on Saturday mornings, but my greatest reference point is late 90s Monday nights. This is, with eight men spread out and the match constructed so well, comparable to the great RAW or Nitro main events.
Heels rotate through to get the heat on Taylor, who gets hope spots and near tags like a great MNX vs RNR match. Crowd totally behind Taylor well through the ten minute mark and beyond. Sawyer and Murdoch carry this for the heels.
Hot tag goes to Doc, and he hits the stampede for the pin… except they just stop counting it. Tommy Gilbert is distracted by all eight men getting in the ring. Has he never seen the finish to any tag match after a hot tag in Mid South? Oh well, faces win anyway when a heel gets DQed for Duggan getting tossed over the top. Not quite as well thought out and organized as the Gilbert vs Ware match I just reviewed, but that was one-on-one. Still a great fun match with some – some – drama thrown in. 3 ½ and 6.6/10.