June 4, 2011
Matt D & Vic
Demolition © vs British Bulldogs - MSG - 7/25/88
MD: There are a lot of holes in my wrestling watching background that I am slowly filling. I admit it. I got into wrestling around 1990. I think of Ricky Morton as Richard Morton, good buddy of the Computerized Man of the 90s and sworn enemy of Robert Gibson. So I recently watched the Rock 'n' Roll Express debut on JCP TV for the first time vs Krusher and Ivan and thought it was a great match, probably as great as it had been talked up to be. One big element of the match was that it was given time to build and grow and breathe. There were multiple heat segments with both R'n'Rers playing FIP. Surprisingly, the longest one had the Russians beating on Gibson. One arguable slight (slight argument?) against Demolition matches is that they never really did get the the time. Few of their matches that go 20 minutes, certainly next to no one fall matches go that long. That's an unfortunate side effect of the WWF style, and I think it's important to look at the Demolition matches in the context of what they did with the time they were given, not what someone else did with more time elsewhere.
That said, this is a long Demolition match. It goes over twenty minutes. It's a one-fall match. It has broken down Dynamite in it. And hey, it's pretty cool. Multiple crescendoing heat-segments. Slow teasing of Fuji interference. Multiple hot-tags. Unfortunately, it's one of the few Demolition matches I've seen that has a screwed up ending. But we'll get to that. It's right in the middle of the summer 88 Bulldogs/Demos feud (the night after the six man with Warrior if the dates are right).
Bulldogs are out first. Dynamite does a lot of stretching and groaning just moving around the ring. Demolition are the champs. They have Fuji with them. Superstar Billy Graham's your color man (with Hayes and Mooney) and he actually comes up with a key story point that we'll get to later. Smash and Davey to begin and the shine period is both more extended than usual and more back and forth. Demos had no problem at all selling for the Bulldogs, but then they had no problem selling for anyone who earned it. Smash and Davey do a lot of good speed and finesse vs power stuff with Davey trying to take control of the arm. Davey looks great and Smash helps make him look great. Dynamite in. Smash powers to the corner.
Ax tags in and takes over on him. Dynamite gets the advantage. He was really limited here relative to how he was before the injury (though he just flies off of Ax in a kick out from a vertical press), but makes up for it by doing lots of cool little things like grapevining the leg while putting on a standing armbar. Ax powers out and chucks Dynamite across the ring with a great-looking slam. Smash comes in only to eat a killer drop-toe hold into a beautiful floatover. Really nice looking matwork. Davey gets tagged in for a double-team, and then it's back to the arm. Davey sits down using his feet to try to yank Smash's arm out of the socket (including a chilling up-nostrel camera shot on DBS). Fuji's great out the outside menacing with the cane and then tapping the apron with it when the ref sees with the biggest shit-eating grin on his face. We're about 6 minutes in here, for what it's worth. Smash powers up, selling the arm as he fights back (and I want to say it leads to Davey being able to reverse the irish whip but that might be wishful thinking).
As an aside, one of the biggest problems with US tag matches, especially of this era, is that a lot of what happens in the initial shine period just doesn't get represented later in the match. Quite often, especially in big man vs little man matches, it's arm work. It's just sort of the way things are. Arm-work early in the match gets forgotten during the heat periods and doesn't play into the comeback. I like to think that it's more of a matter of generally wearing the opponent down and far more than that of control. It's the only way for the Bulldogs to keep Demolition from clobbering them for a few minutes. It also happens to the heels so much that they're built up against it and really, the nature of tag matches is that the guy on the apron can recover somewhat. So that's my attempt for a no-prize here. It's just a normative element and in this match it works pretty well due to the back and forth. Demolition, in general, never ever just sit there and let the hold become a rest hold. If the other team is on top, Demolition is selling it, yes, but they're also trying desperately to power back up and make the tag. They make things very, very hard for their opponents, but all the while respecting what's going on in the match. They're not no-selling clods. That's part of why I like them so much. It adds realism in a way that you don't always think about. They're always, always fighting.
Anyway, all of this leads to a cool spot where Davey goes for a flying headscissors and Smash walks around the ring with him before dumping him on the top. Too much clubbering causes the ref to intervene and Davey comes off with a good-looking forearm smash from the second rope and then a slam setting up a really nice looking second rope headbutt from Dynamite and a near-fall. A couple of quick tags leads to Davey being back in and Smash maneuvering him back into Demos corner. Dynamite comes in to save but Fuji's cane points it out to the ref and finally the shine period ends 8 minutes in and the Demos take over. I don't think there was an opening segment like this in any of the other Demolition matches. If variety is the spice of life then Demolition is medieval Asia.
Here comes Heat Segment #1. Davey's thrown out. Fuji menaces. Smash attacks. Ax attacks, pulls Davey back in and hits a solid back elbow, and after that long back-and-forth shine period where the bulldogs were mostly on top Ax slows things down with a nasty looking nerve hold... except for it doesn't really slow things down for long. After about 30 seconds, Davey powers up and Ax cuts it off by clamping down as if it was an attack. Demos grind down with their usual realistic offense. Double clotheslines, chokes, clubbers, kidney punches and knees, hairpulling. Another short nerve hold. Davey goes for a comeback but Smash cuts him off with a drop toe-hold and tries to tag, sees he's too far away and runs up and hits Dynamite on the apron instead. Good ring presence in ratcheting up the heat. A minute or two of grinding later and Davey does a weird rising knee counter to a back drop and dashes over for Hot Tag #1.
Dynamite hits Smash on the apron while working on Ax but there's no "hit one guy, then the other" spots in this hot tag. Great clothesline and snap suplex on Ax. Smash, on the apron, teeters and totters for Dynamite as he gets nailed twice but then finally hits him with a nasty clothesline as DK bounces off the ropes allowing Demos to take over for Heat Segment #2. Clubbering, taunting of Davey on the apron. Double clubbering with DK straddled on the top rope. More grinding, including another quick nerve hold, and another toss out of the ring. Fuji menaces again but just like last time a Demo (this time Ax) comes out of nowhere and does the damage instead. Great suplex into the ring by Smash and another hold that only last a few seconds. They are definitely keeping things moving and not letting the holds dig in and slow the match down. Dynamite hits a clothesline and makes a perfectly timed Hot Tag #2.
Davey hits some big offense including a great dropkick but Smash doesn't come into the ring here either so no tandem tit-for-tat hot tag stuff (again he gets hit on the apron though). Ax reverses a pile driver attempt and Demos are right back on offense (but not before Fuji pokes at Ax repeatedly with his cane to get him moving. Fuji's great. WON voters are crazy). Smash comes in and we're right into Heat Segment #3. Some grinding commences before Davey fights back only to get thrown out of the ring on kick out of a vertical press.
And the back and forth nature and Bulldogs ability to come back so frequently at this point (even if they keep getting cut off) plays into something Superstar (Graham, not Masked) talked about early on. He said that if it went long it would benefit the smaller team. They say that all the time, but this is one match where it really seems to play out and whether or not it was the intent of the guys in the ring (and I wouldn't put it past these guys at all), Graham mentioning it twice really hammers it home in the minds of the audience and it becomes truth. Bulldogs are fighting back so well because we're already past the 17 minute mark.
Anyway, Davey lands outside right next to the announcers. Graham tries to rally him on. Fuji menaces AGAIN. Smash comes around to toss him back in. Ax drags him all the way back to the Demos corner before snapping on a chinlock (Eadie was so, so good at ring positioning). This one lasts longer, getting the crowd back behind Davey before they cut off any potential comeback. All of the short nerveholds leading up to this longer hold actually makes it mean a lot more. Smash hits a good backbreaker in the middle of the ring (Darsow was good with the positioning too but not quite as good.) Covers. Dynamite breaks it up. Both guys are hurting now. Smash tosses Davey into the corner and charges in, only to eat the boots and Davey crawls over for Hot Tag #3 (this being the really hot one in part due to the longer hold a minute or two before). We're heading towards the finish so now Ax comes in and we get the double noggin knocker and the parallel offense.
Dynamite charges into the corner after Ax and Ax nonchalantly stumbles away causing DK to eat the turnbuckle and we get Heat Segment #4. Oh wait, no we don't. DK just gives Smash the meanest chop you'll see all day and storms over to tag Davey. Both Demos are in again and now Davey (noticeably worn down and barely able to toss Smash into the corner) gets to nail both of them, culminating with the running power slam on Smash.
Here's where things break down. The ref counts two and then randomly stops. Both Ax and Fuji attempted to get into the ring and break up the count but neither made it in time and the ref just points to Ax and Dynamite brawling at the edge of the ring as the reason he stopped the count. Actually, Dynamite's the one really in the ring, trying to keep Ax out, so maybe it's a case where since both Bulldogs are in the ring, the ref stops the count. It comes off as pretty weird though and in the chaos that follows (including Davey choking/menacing Fuji for way too long), the Rougeaus hit the ring and smash DBS with the cane leading to Demos picking up the pinfall. I like how Fuji stops and gets his hat before sneaking out of the ring. It's definitely not a smooth finish but I'm always going to believe the Rogs hating on the Bulldogs and vice versa, and the actual cane shot did look pretty good.
Vic: Demolition were at the height of their powers as heel ass kickers. Loved how Smash stooged for the Bulldogs then Ax got in and was all "Enough of this garbage." Then just clubbers the poop out of the Bulldogs. Some people shit on Dynamite now. but as a face in peril he is first rate. Nobody takes Demolition clubbering better. The multiple hot tags were worked very well. They would get in hit a big move or two and either miscalculate (Davey Boy attempting the Piledriver.) or just getting caught with well timed Demo strikes.
The finish was a little messy by Demolition standards but fine for a late 80s bull plop finish. Fuji missed his cue to break up the pin but Davey Boy saved it by getting up before 3. He looked dumb but the referee didn't which I feel is important. A really good match that would be great with a better finish.