This was from Don Owen's Pacific Northwest promotion, based out of Portland with a 2 out of 3 Falls format. A young Rick Martel is seen at age 24 with an amazing 8 years of seasoning already behind him. A 'bald' Playboy Buddy Rose is seen at age 27 with 7 years experience. Adding to the comedy aspect, PBR is wearing a mask that supports a wig after having had his head shaved as a result of a previous match stip.
This serves as a reminder that Buddy at his peak was a great bump taker, master of ring psychology and arguably achieved well below his talent level. RIP
This was from a joint promotional card at the famed Kuramae Kokugikan in Tokyo. NWF World Champion Antonio Inoki represents the upstart New Japan promotion as he defends against IWE icon Shozo 'Strong' Kobayashi. Not since the days of Rikidozan vs Kimura had there been such a big time feel match up between two native stars. Historically significant!
This tag classic was from All Japan during the annual Real World Tag League. By this point Dory Jr. and Terry were mainstays for Baba's promotion and had attained considerable crowd support for an America tandem. The great Billy Robinson is seen working a tour while at his peak. Horst Hoffman primarily competed on the European circuit and was easily among the top legit 'shooters' of the time frame.
Solid old school technical wrestling mixed with great pacing and psychology, as high end as it gets!
This was from New Japan. Hiro Hase was one of the best junior heavyweights of the decade. A solid utility player and company man, Hase went on to success in politics and served in the Japanese government. The Great Muta is seen at his peak working as a heel. The storyline was that tensions had boiled over between these two rivals as Hase 'goes over the edge'.
This match is notable for the amount of blood and came to trigger the term 'Muta Scale' in reference to the severity of blade jobs.
This was from All Japan. Best 2 out of 3 Falls format. This offers s good look at a 30 year old comedic/quasi face version of Dick Murdoch at his peak. Killer Karl Kox is seen at age 45 playing the role of a hard grizzled veteran. Kox was a headliner in Jim Barnett's WCW promotion in Australia during the late 60's into mid 70's. While a lack of surviving footage has caused him to be off the radar of most fans, he was an effective draw and solid worker who mastered one of the highest end moves of his era, the brain buster!
This was from Jim Crockett's Mid Atlantic promotion. It was formatted as a taped fist match. Dick Murdoch is seen at age 30 with 11 years of ring time, marking his athletic peak. Cyclone Negro (seen at age 44) was an international star whose career dated as far back as the late 50's. He remained a force in the industry stretching into the late 70's. A nice prime viewing of Murdoch, with both men throwing some of the most realistic looking worked punches you'll ever see.
Watch closely as Cyclone hits the Pedigree long before it was invented years later by Triple H!
This was from Southwest Championship Wrestling based out of Texas. The format was a Texas Death Match (30 seconds between falls, both men must then answer a 10 count). Tully Blanchard (age 28) was the son of the booker/owner and is seen with 7 years experience. Grizzled veteran Bob Sweetan is seen at age 32 with 16 years of seasoning. Looking back, Mr. Piledriver cast as a face was a tough sell. Watch as the segment launches with an old school plug for clothes, pictures and programs...T-Shirts at $10 a pop!
Slightly before a young VKM had attempted to go national, promoter Joe Blanchard secured a spot on cable with the USA Network. A huge opportunity, but it wasn't meant to be!
This match was from New Japan. In contrast to how he was booked in the U.S., Andre would often work as a heel during his tours of NJPW. Here he is seen at age 35 with 18 years of ring time. Stan Hansen was 32 with 8 years of seasoning. In the context of storyline, these two volatile foreigners were a team that had a recent falling out. Watch Andre's slick use of heel psychology as he turns normally feared big man Stan Hansen into an undersized, underdog baby face.
This match is a good example of high-end Andre at his peak: focused submission work, a super high vertical suplex, solid bump taking and an electric interaction with the crowd. Arguably one of the best worked ATG matches recorded on video, with a wild five star close out sequence!
This was from New Japan and was part of the annual International Grand Prix tournament. Antonio Inoki is seen as the native hero representing Japan. Otto Wanz reps his home country of Austria. An interesting look back at the use of 'sport nationalism' in booking.
Otto was a big player on the European scene who doubled as a promoter/headliner. I'd give credit him as a successful businessman, but he never impressed me as a worker. I saw him as an Austrian version of Big Daddy Crabtree. Watch for the BIG OTTO SPLASH!
This was from All Japan and represented the finals of the annual Real World Tag League. The legendary Jumbo Tsuruta captains a team with an up and coming Genichiro Tenryu in the role of junior. The monster gaijin unit of Stan Hansen & Bruiser Brody were known as the Miracle Power Combination and are seen at their peak. One for the record books!