Simple....but not easy
First and foremost, all apologies for taking so long to post another match. Life intervened at every turn. That's all you need to know.
Second, if you get a moment, check out my good friend Austin "KhanX" Buckner's very own Pro Wrestling Wake Up. Search for it right here on Blogger, it's very good stuff.
#97: "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes vs. "Superstar" Billy Graham, Texas Bullrope Match, Madison Square Garden, August 28, 1978
There aren't many performers one could take from this era of professional wrestling, drop into another completely different era and watch display the tools to truly stay at the top.
Jake Roberts once said if wrestling were strictly about legitimate toughness, there would be nobody left but "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan and Haku. In his own inimitable way, Jake was stating the obvious: there's more to creating a great match than who can beat one another up the most. As Ole Anderson said once, "The finish has to make sense."
Yet another legend - I forget just now who it was - once said the only individuals he could see absolutely holding their own in any era in professional wrestling's history were Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero and Kurt Angle.
There's something to both theories. Jake reminded everyone that actual toughness isn't a necessity at all. If one possesses the right gifts, the illusion of true grit can be manufactured. But the ability to tell a story is a must to create something even remotely watchable.
The second theory holds some weight, too. Chris Benoit would be a quintessential "shooter" - someone with very legitimate wrestling ability - in any given promotion in any given era. Guerrero and Angle would possess the charisma, presence and storytelling gifts to captivate audiences across every territory.
Which brings me around to this match: not everyone can pull off what Dusty Rhodes and Billy Graham could separately.
There's no point adding a stipulation if it doesn't make things more interesting. Right off the bat, these two make the bullrope a schizophrenic character all its own. It's that "up-the-ante" factor that gimmick matches need to have. Vince Russo, someway, somehow, has never learned this.
Rhodes taunts Graham with the rope right off the bat, and witness the flayboyant Graham display all the charms of a great cowardly heel. He begs off, tries to run and Dusty, like a cat with a mouse, just toys with him by yanking him back into the ring. If one is going to play a character, he might as well turn up the volume and rip that knob off.
But once Graham takes over, he reminds everyone there's two sides to any story. He takes the rope and makes it HIS ally. He punishes Dusty over and over with it. Watching this single seven-minute match is like watching some great architecht of the past, present and future of the wrestling business toying with the early blueprints for the character works of art called Scott Steiner, "Hollywood" Hulk Hogan and Triple H. Vanity and arrogance crossed with strength and brutality.
What the Hell, just because I almost quoted him directly, toss a generous helping of "Ravishing" Rick Rude in there, as well.
Both men execute every single moment with an over-the-top aplomb that not many today bother with. If what these two men could do was easy, we'd see more of it today. Nobody would complain about Mark and Jay Briscoe doing so little to sell their opponents' offense. Truthfully, of everybody in the business today, C.M. Punk, Randy Orton, Edge and Chris Jericho spring immediately to mind first on the list of wrestlers who could do what Rhodes and Graham do here.
Let me put it another way: this match may be one of the only satisfying COUNTOUT FINISHES I've ever watched. These two worked the crowd the hard way: with selling, timing and telling a logical story. They used the bullrope to the fullest advantage to enhance what they both already did so well.
This match in itself is a lesson so many wrestlers today either never bothered learning, or forgot as quickly as they'd learned it.
I think it's time for some wrestlers to go back to school.
Tuesday, February 03, 2009
Simple....but not easy
Posted by Sean Comer at 1:30 AM