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

This entry needs no lengthy introduction. It’s a dream tag match between two of the most popular teams from the 1980s… the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express face the British Bulldogs in their only meeting, from the WWA International Bash on February 2, 1989, in Kansas City.

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

The Match

This event was a cross-promotional effort between the AWA, All Japan and what was left of Central States Wrestling. Even though both the AWA and Central States are in decline by this time, the number of empty seats in the building is shocking given the lineup that includes Stan Hansen, Tenryu, Misawa, Jumbo Tsuruta and more. It speaks to how the Internet and tape trading dramatically changed wrestling fandom.

Anyone who follows wrestling knows the traditional formula of a tag match, where the heels take control of the match, the babyface in peril (a role Ricky Morton is so well known for, it’s named after him: i.e., “playing Ricky Morton”) 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.

I enjoy matches that try to change up this script, and this one falls in that category as the advantage ebbs and flows. I don’t know if the Bulldogs ever were heels as a tag team in the U.S., but they fall into the de facto rulebreaker role here. It makes sense, since Davey Boy Smith and Dynamte Kid 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.

These four maintain a brisk pace with 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 several atypical maneuvers, whether it’s seeing Morton and Robert Gibson distract 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 happened.

Carmine DiSpirito and Johnny V are on commentary here. Johnny, who managed Greg Valentine and Brutus Beefcake against the Bulldogs in a lengthy feud 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 continuity …

Final Rating: 6.2

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, calling it “the greatest tag encounter of all time.” This match doesn’t meet that lofty billing. Nevertheless, it’s a very good match with four experts in tag wrestling, worth watching for the nuances, the twists to the standard tag formula and the historical value.

Up Next

Two wrestlers who changed the game in the 2000s run it back in 2018.

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

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