365 match reviews, one for each date on the yearly calendar? Challenge accepted. Welcome to 365 Wrestling.
Do you enjoy watching good wrestling? Are you a wrestler looking to improve? If you can answer yes to either question, then I have one piece of advice: watch more Buddy Rose.
Today, we’re taking a look at a two out of three falls tag match from Portland in January 5, 1980 featuring Rose — Pacific Northwest Wrestling’s top heel at the time — teaming with the Kiwi Sheepherders, Butch Miller and Luke Williams (you may know them better as the Bushwhackers), and Sam Oliver Bass (better known as Outlaw Ron Bass). Their opponents are the quartet of Roddy Piper, Rick Martel, Dutch Savage, and Stan Stasiak. You can find this match on YouTube, or embedded below:
Portland weekly TV at the time was structured around long matches, many of them two out of three falls with sponsor plugs and interviews between falls. This match follows that formula. It’s also the latest chapter in a feud between Rose and Piper that began the prior spring. Rose has recruited Bass and the Sheepherders to his “Army.” The shenanigans between Rose and Piper in 1979 included Rose, in an act of sublime dastardly heeldom, setting fire to Piper’s kilt from the Crow’s Nest broadcasters’ position while the Rowdy Scot was part of a tag match. Fun fact, PNW pre-taped its TV show at the time, but fans watching thought it was happening live and called the fire department.
Piper’s team consists of Martel, who is new on the scene in Portland; Savage, a mainstay in PNW and one of the promoters of the territory; and Stasiak, best known for his “heart punch” and being the man who dropped the WWF Title to Bruno Sammartino to begin Bruno’s second reign as champion. By this point, Stasiak is in the twilight of his career.
The booking here accomplishes three goals, which is an impressive juggling act. First, building Martel for an imminent shot at Harley Race and the NWA Worlds Heavyweight Title. Second, to advance the feud between Piper and Rose. Third, to establish Rose’s Army as a force.
Most of the action is basic pro wrestling you’ve seen a thousand times, but it’s all done well and the crowd is red-hot for the first fall, which lasts more than 20 minutes. Rose is involved on the three big highlights of the match: a rapidly-paced exchange with Piper in the opening minutes, taking a Martel Irish whip into the opposite corner where he throws himself headlong above the turnbuckles to smash into a long pole extending from the ringpost, and then, in the second fall, feeding into a late hot tag by Martel, who busts out a huracanrana (in 1980!!!) as part of his comeback.
Rose sells for everybody in this one, whether it be an exaggerated bump on the apron after Savage punches him, or reacting to Stasiak’s “reverse pumphandle armbar”, as Frank Bonnenma calls it, like he’s being interrogated in a medieval torture device. This match loses quite a bit of steam heading into the second fall and the intensity continues to diminish — the opposite of what you want — with the minute-by-minute calls of ring announcer Don Owen (the promoter of the territory), making a time-limit draw finish as obvious as a flashing neon sign.
Final Rating: 6.0
This one is definitely worth seeking out to watch. You get a good look at a highly-energized Piper, the Sheepherders with a distinctly different look, and Bass in his prime. The star, though, is Rose. Rose shines in the style of the Portland territory, thanks to his combination of tremendous promos, meticulous mannerisms in the ring, and bumping heedlessly to make his opponents look like a million bucks. I assure you, this won’t be the only time you see Rose on this list.
Two of the top female wrestlers of the 2000s battle in a No DQ brouhaha.