365 Wrestling, Day 33: Rock ‘n’ Roll Express vs. British Bulldogs (2/2/89)

365 Wrestling, Day 33: Rock ‘n’ Roll Express vs. British Bulldogs (2/2/89)

365 matches in 365 days, each from that specific date on the calendar? Challenge accepted. Welcome to 365 Wrestling.

No need for a long introduction because I want to focus on today’s entry: a dream tag match with two of the top teams from the 1980s: the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express face the British Bulldogs in their only meeting!

You can watch this match on YouTube, or, below:

The Context

The commentary team, Carmine DiSpirito and Johnny V, mention a few times this is a battle between former WWF tag champs and NWA tag champs (by that, they mean holding Jim Crockett Promotions‘ version of the NWA World Tag Titles) but by the time this match happens it’s been a little bit since either has been on championship level. The Bulldogs had their one run with the WWF belts end in January of 1987, while Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson had their fourth and final run with JCP’s top tag titles end in September of that year. Both left those companies in 1988

The Bulldogs left WWF the preceding fall after the Survivor Series pay-per-view, and spent time in Stampede Wrestling and All Japan prior to this match. Ricky and Robert, meanwhile, had been alternating between AWA appearances and All Japan tours.

As for this event itself, it was a cross-promotional effort between the AWA, All Japan, and what was left of Central States Wrestling.

The Match

The matchup here is a tantalizing one because it’s the only time these four wrestled one another, in any combination, according to the research I’ve done. DiSpirito does his part to sell it, hyping it as “the greatest tag encounter of all time.”

Is such promotion warranted by what happens in the ring? Nope. However, what does occur in this match is a very good example of tag wrestling that bucks the usual structure of a tag match in American wrestling.

We all know the traditional tag team formula by now: feeling out process / the heels are sent reeling / the heels take over / hot tag / finish.

While both teams were fan favorites throughout the 1980s, the Bulldogs definitely take the role as the de facto rulebreakers in the match, or as DiSpirito calls them, “the aggressors.” It makes sense. The Bulldogs are bigger, more muscular, and able to bully their smaller opponents. They take to the role with gusto, especially when they start flinging around Morton in the most extended control segment for either team in the match.

For the most part, though, this isn’t the standard tale of the babyface team getting beat down for minute after minute only for a hot tag and final flourish. Instead the advantage ebbs and flows between the two sides. Meanwhile, both teams work a brisk pace for the vast majority of a lengthy match. There are very few lulls or stalls. It’s an excellent example of how to wrestle a long tag match, and wrestle it well, without doing anything wild or reinventing the wheel.

We also get to see some atypical maneuvers from several wrestlers in the match, whether it’s seeing the Rock ‘n’ Rolls breaking the rules and distracting the referee to deliver some groin-targeted offense to Dynamite, Dynamite Kid doing his darnedest attempt at an MMA-style kimura, or Davey Boy making a rare foray to the top rope. There also are a couple of exchanges between Morton and Dynamite that serve as a tantalizing appetizer for a singles match that unfortunately never would occur. In fact, while Morton and Gibson still are wrestling to this day, the Bulldogs are near the end of their run as a duo, splitting their team for good in January of 1990 when Davey Boy rejoined the WWF as a singles act–and took the British Bulldog name in the process.

Ultimately, the match concludes with no winner, as the 30 minute time limit expires and we go to a bitterly contested draw.

Random Thoughts

–Johnny V, who feuded with the Bulldogs in the WWF when they battled Greg Valentine and Brutus Beefcake for the tag titles, openly roots against Davey Boy and Dynamite, calls back to that feud, and refers to them has halfwits. Blessed are those who maintain storyline contuinity …

–According to Cagematch, there were about 300 fans in attendance for this event but the number of empty seats in the venue is shocking. The audio appears to be sweetened because many fans appear to be sitting and passively watching.

–Pat O’Connor, who’s going to be featured later in this project, is the special referee.

Final Rating: 6.2

There’s nothing amazing about this match but it’s still a very good tag match that is worth watching for nothing other than the novelty of the matchup. It’s definitely worth watching for current wrestlers, for some of the nuances and little things these four bring to the table to shake up the standard tag formula.

Here’s the complete, ongoing list of matches in this project.

Up Next

We take advantage of being behind to bend the rules and check out a match from earlier this year.

Enjoying these write-ups? Feel free to reach out on Twitter where you also can keep up with all the updates on 365 Wrestling. Send a tweet, a DM, or fill out the contact form on the site to suggest a match to watch for one of the upcoming dates.

365 Wrestling, Day 32: El Mesias vs. Takeshi Morishima (AAA, 2/1/10)

365 Wrestling, Day 32: El Mesias vs. Takeshi Morishima (AAA, 2/1/10)

365 matches in 365 days, each from that specific date on the calendar? Challenge accepted. Welcome to 365 Wrestling.

One month worth of matches is in the books and now it’s on to February. This also marks the project’s first foray into Mexico–specifically, AAA, for this match between El Mesias and Takeshi Morishima from February 1, 2010.

You can watch this match on Dailymotion.

The Context

Mesias has gone by all kinds of names in wrestling, starting out in his native Puerto Rico as Ricky Banderas. He also worked as Banderas in Wrestling Society X. He started out in AAA in 2006 as Muerte Cibernetica, masked muscle for top rudo Cibernetico. After losing his mask to La Parka, he shifted to the El Mesias gimmick. After several years as a top heel himself in AAA, Mesias turned at the end of 2008 and he’s still a strong fan favorite here. Mesias also is in his third reign as Mega Champion at the time of this match. Positioned as the top title in AAA, Mesias was also the first to hold the championship back in 2007. If you’re not a big fan of lucha libre, or unless you caught his run in TNA as Judas Mesias, you probably know him best as Mil Muertes from Lucha Underground and, now, MLW.

Morishima already has reigns as ROH World Champion and GHC Heavyweight Champion — the top title in Pro Wrestling NOAH — under his belt as he makes his way to Mexico for this match. He’s actually an injury replacement, according to some research I did. The original matchup was meant to be a champion vs. champion meeting with Mesias defending against Go Shiozaki, the reigning GHC champ at the time. When Shiozaki got hurt, Morishima stepped in as the replacement.

The Match

AAA is using a six-sided ring, and not a big one at that. It makes Morishima look gigantic, and he towers over the tecnico Mesias and dominates the first half of the match. I don’t speak enough Spanish to understand the commentary but some of the reactions transcend the language barrier; take, for example, how the announcer reacts when Morishima hits a charging hip attack on a seated Mesias. The production crew finds this match so nice they show it twice, with a slow-motion replay. Mid-match replays become frequent in this match (I counted six of them), and while they all come after big spots, by the time the camera cuts back to live action, the next big move is already being set up. Seeing big move after big move with none of the in-between made me feel like I was watching a highlight reel rather than a match.

Mesias finally drops Morishima by putting some extra mustard on a spear (he actually flips over in midair). After finally felling his Japanese foe, the match breaks down when members of La Legion Extranjera — aka The Foreign Legion — hit the ring and attack Mesias. Four tecnicos sprint out to even the odds and chase away the heels. The good guys then decide to pounce on Morishima and all get wiped out for their trouble. Unbeknownst to him but knownst to everyone else, Mesias is lying in wait, hoisting Morishima for a fireman’s carry and hitting a cutter to finish the match.

Random Thoughts

–The archives of Luchablog, an outstanding and highly-recommended resource for all things related to lucha libre, helped me identify all the guys involved in the run-ins at the end. Alex Koslov, Zorro, and Chessman are the three Legion members who hit the ring. They’re countered by the tecnico quartet of Super Fly, Argenis, Gato Eveready, and Laredo Kid. You might know Koslov from his run in New Japan Pro Wrestling, while Super Fly and Argenis were also part of the Lucha Underground cast of characters. Gato was also in Lucha Underground, but as Drago–one of my favorites from the show.

–Mesias is still active but Morishima had to retire from wrestling in 2015 due to poor physical and mental health. If you’ve not checked out any of his run as ROH champ, you should. He had memorable matches against Bryan Danielson and the man who defeated him, Nigel McGuinness, but don’t sleep on other defenses against other legit heavyweights like Claudio Castagnoli and Brent Albright.

Final Rating: 5.0

Morishima hits some impressive moves (that shotgun dropkick off the top stands out, and is treated as the big deal it should be), and there’s nothing really wrong with it, but this match is too short to truly be memorable.

Here’s the complete, ongoing list of matches in this project.

Up Next

What happens when two of the most popular tag teams of the 1980s face off in their one and only meeting?

(Photo by Daniela Herrerias)

I welcome any and all feedback. Feel free to reach out on Twitter where you also can keep up with all the updates on 365 Wrestling. Send a tweet, a DM, or fill out the contact form on the site to suggest a match to watch for one of the upcoming dates.