365 match reviews, one for each date on the yearly calendar? Challenge accepted. Welcome to 365 Wrestling.

In early 2021, a debate about the wrestling of Dory Funk, Jr., mushroomed into a debate about how wrestling can and should be consumed. If you’re part of Wrestling Twitter, then you probably already saw it, and also, my condolences for being part of Wrestling Twitter.

I won’t get into the nuts and bolts of it, only to say this: if I believed the quality of a wrestling match or a wrestler only could be determined by evaluating it in its immediate real-time context, and could not be evaluated through the prism of history, well, then I wouldn’t be doing this, now would I?

Anyway, let’s get to today’s match, between Funk and Billy Robinson in a Reader Recommendation from Jeremiah Lawson. You can watch the match on YouTube, or below:

The Match

Neither Funk nor Robinson has the physique you’d associate with the prototypical pro wrestler, but their skills shine through from the opening bell of this match. In so many matches, the chain wrestling serves as a feeling-out process and comes across as more cooperative than competitive. Here, everything feels like a struggle.

It’s difficult to describe this match without getting into a hold-for-hold description so I definitely suggest you watch it. Funk, an Amarillo native and former NWA Champion, is the hometown guy in this Houston match, though the catch-wrestling expert Robinson does earn several appreciative hoots on his impressive reversal of a double knuckle lock into a single-leg takedown.

The first 10 minutes are largely back and forth but that changes when Dory starts unleashing his trademark forearm uppercuts. Robinson eats several of them, and sells each a little more than the last, emphasizing the steady attrition of weathering Funk’s blows. Both men quicken the pace at the “five minutes remaining” call from the ring announcer (Boyd Pierce, I think?) but with subsequent time calls at three minutes, two, and so on, it doesn’t take a mastermind to anticipate this one is going the distance. The crowd boos the time-limit draw somewhat, and both men shake hands before exiting.

According to Cagematch, Funk and Robinson wrestled as singles opponents 10 times but there was never a winner. Each of those matches ended in either a double countout or a draw.

Final Rating: 6.0

One of the tricks of pro wrestling is to wrestle a long match but make it feel shorter than it is. Funk and Robinson go 20 minutes but it flew by fairly quickly to me. I wouldn’t call it an action-packed match, especially by the standards of modern pro wrestling, but both guys stay busy and keep working throughout. This is a good, solid match — nothing more, nothing less — and young wrestlers could learn something from it.

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

What’s Next

A Royal Rumble match that you’ve probably never seen.

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5 thoughts on “365 Wrestling, Day 16: Dory Funk, Jr. vs. Billy Robinson (Houston, 1/16/81)

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