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