Lawler is one of my favourites of all time and is someone I've only come to really appreciate when I've gone back and watched him in his proper pomp. Rather than just what I grew up watching, which was him in WWF. Not that his WWF stint didn't have it's share of highlights in terms of ring action, the Bret stuff is testament to how great he was, but it's watching his Memphis stuff where you really get the good stuff.
I watched a few of his best stuff from Memphis last year and this tjread seems like an ample opportunity to post s couple of my ramblings on the matches;
Ric Flair vs Jerry Lawler (Memphis Wrestling 08/29/82)
A match I've never seen but given it actually happened and in Memphis, wanted to finally check out.
Flair is in the studio with his NWA championship belt and he's here to sign a contract for a match in Memphis. As most of you know, he was a travelling champion who travelled all over defending the belt.
Ric looks great here in his very nice suit and classic shades and cuts a promo explaining why he's come to Memphis to defend the belt and show everyone what he's all about. Flair agrees to wrestle the southern champion at some point in the near future.
"I'll be back shortly. Prepare yourself because the magnificent one is going to show you why he wears the 10lb gold that makes him the greatest professional wrestler alive today"
Back to the studio and Lawler is out, who's the southern heavyweight champion. He wants to shake hands with Ric, who's in the studio preparing to have a match with I presume a local jobber. They shake hands and it's a unique sight to see them here face to face.
Lawler cuts a promo on Flair, lobbying himself for a match with Flair tonight instead of the Rick McCourt, saying he's more deserving of the match. Flair responds by saying all the people are there to see Ric Flair and it doesn't matter who hes facing. Lawler puts forward the idea of a match between them now, which Flair agrees to in a 10 minute TV non title match. Lawler wants it be a title match though, which Flair eventually agrees to.
Already a great angle as they play off each other really well.
So to the match. I thought it was a fine match given it was only 10 minutes and it was on TV. Maybe not quite the classic one would envisage it being given it's Lawler/Flair, but it was a fun match and I'm still glad it happened as it was great just seeing them in the same ring in this setting. Lawler looked a little restrained here and they work a basic match, which could have been the idea. He stuck to a headlock mainly and it was soon down to Flair to provide the main offense.
But to me this was more about Flair, as he busted out a variety of stuff in a showcase of sorts and I was more engaged watching him on offense.
The time limit expires while Flair has him in the figure-4 and since he could submit him, Flair wants him for 5 more minutes. Lawler makes a comeback and shows fire here and slams Flair all over the ring.
Flair ends up bailing, being counted out and taking the championship with him.
The post-match angle is great though with Flair putting out a bounty on Lawler's head and delegating it to Jimmy Hart. Flair cuts another great promo here.
As a match it's not something epic or anything, but it's more than worth watching for the great angle surrounding it and seeing them together. But as a Memphis angle, it's great and recommended viewing. Just don't expect an all time classic 10 minute match in the middle. Watch it for the whole angle because as a package; It's still a classic.
Jerry Lawler vs Bam Bam Bigelow -(Memphis 09/07/1986) (Texas Death Match)
Holy fuck it's more Memphis glory.
This is one of the definitive David/Goliath matches and features amazing performances by both, esp Lawler, who is out of this world great here. But Bigelow is no slouch either. He starts off cartwheeling to show off his athleticism but then it's straight down to business. Bigelow is the monster and Lawler is the undersized underdog looking to survive and try and punch and weave his way around the match.
From the first lock up Bigelow tosses Lawler across the ring with a roar and a thud. Jerry is in for a long day. They lock up again and Lawler punches Bam Bam in the face, but to no avail, as once again Bigelow throws Lawler to the other side of the ring.
Fucking great spot then as Bigelow punches Lawler, who then has the "Oh you want to play that game huh"? face on and gives him one hell of a swinging right hander back. Its now a game of catch me if you can. Just love how Lawker sells a punch.
They both go to the outside of the ring and Bigelow swings a right at Lawler but misses and hits his hand on the post. They get back in the ring and to his credit, Bigelow sells the hand as he gets sideswiped by a Lawler punch.
Lawler is so good at both taking a punch and delivering one.
Bigelow ends up winning the first fall by choking Lawler and repeatedly headbutts him in the ribs. Lawler is back up for the second fall but he's now holding his ribs, which Bam Bam takes full advantage of and goes straight for them with heavy punches and headbutts. He quickly takes the second fall too and he's in total control and is looking unbeatable.
Back up, Lawler storms over and punches Bigelow square in the mouth. Keep saying it and everyone knows it by now but, fuck Lawler can throw a damn punch. Bigelow buries hands deep into the midsection again going for those fucked up tibs of Lawler, but this time he misses a headbutt. Lawler covers and scores a fall back.
Lawler takes full advantage of getting a fall back with more big punches to Bam Bam. Bigelow is dazed from his own headbutt. Flying fist drop by gets Lawler his second fall. Bigelow does some really great bumping here, it's always such a treat seeing a man of that size bump around like this. Lawler continues selling the ribs to perfection and his performance just gets better.
It's 2-2 now and Bigelow is looking very vulnerable.
Lawler is staggering around and looking to punch himself out of trouble but is falling over himself.
Jerry fucking Lawler.
He misses a fist drop and Bigelow falls straight on him with a headbutt on the already banged up ribs. Bigelow punches Lawler so hard he falls forward. I go on about Jerry in this match being fucking tremendous but fuck, Bigelow is just doing everything so spot on too. His offense, selling and character work are just perfect.
Bigelow lays with all his weight on Lawler and hooks in a sleeper. He bites at Lawlers head and busts him open.
Ahhhhhh; Here comes the bloooooooooood.
Bigelow sleeper puts Lawler out and this could be all over. Larry Sharpe screams "Is here a Doctor in the house”? Lawler gets up so Bigelow goes straight for the open wound and the eye. Lawler gets a sleeper of his own. Bigelow gets up and snapmares him off. Bigelow elbow gets the three to take the fall.
Lawler straps are now down ~~~!!!
Lawler’s comeback is FUCKING PHENOMENAL. Bigelows takes a huge bump over the top rope. Lawler goes straight out and slams him into railing. Bigelows kicks him in midsection and Irish Whips him into ref. Bigelow pins Lawler, but the ref is dazed, but still gets the fall. Larry Sharpe (who's with Bigelow) storms in and nsils Bam Bam with a chair by accident. Both men are down as the ref starts counting to ten. First man up wins. Lawler is up and wins the match.
Not a big fan of the overly fuckery of the finish, but I guess it was done to protect Bigelow in defeat. Plus he ended up decking Sharpe and turning face in the process, so it was setup for that to happen too.
Well, what a fucking match. A definitive one for Bigelow without question and one for Lawler too. His selling was off the charts. He just sold those ribs and his comeback was one of the best I've ever seen. He plays the perfect foil to a monster like Bam Bam. Bigelow himself puts in one hell of a shift too though. He's bumping and selling like a veteran and plays his role to sheer perfection.
Everything he does to Lawler is on point. His offense, timing, selling, just all tremendous and Lawler puts one of his best performances to make it all look incredible. Seriously, this is probably one of his career defining performances in terms of selling, character work and how to work this sort of match as that trying to survive underdog. The sheer struggle he shows here and the timing of everything he does is a joy to behold.
A pretty incredible piece of work.