Thursday, September 20, 2012

2 Out of 3 Falls: Ric Flair, Jumbo Tsuruta, Kerry Von Erich

Hey yo,

I like a Green Day song (O Love). I am starting to take stock in this Mayan Apocalypse.

Just as I have revolutionized the late night scene in Cambridge and Ann AhhhhBahhhhh, today I revolutionize the stagnant Wrestling Review paradigm with my BRAND NEW “2 Out Of 3 Falls” concept. For far too long wrestling reviews have been written as static pieces in a vacuum. Much like the episodic TV model wrestling follows, each blog will build on the foundation of the previous one. I intend this cumulative experience to be a living document that will re-evaluate its assessment of wrestlers, promotions and matches upon access to new information derived from watching matches and promos.  This truly dynamic approach will be undertaken by positing certain “universal truths” about wrestlers and testing if they hold up against the evidence. No more hear-say about the Flair Formula, Bob Backlund being boring, or Hulk Hogan can’t work. It is time for me to ascertain the truth for myself and I would love for you to come on the journey with me by watching the matches with me and asserting your own claims, but all opinions should be backed up with evidence.  Yeah, Martin, I know all the ladies in the club have been swooning as soon your describe this grandiose undertaking. Shut up, it is cool, goddamnit, my mother said so!

It has been dubbed “2 Out of 3 Falls” because I will begin by listing three wrestlers and the common assertions assumed about each wrestler. I will then set out to argue these assertions based on my primary source findings. These findings will be contained in my recap and analysis of the three matches, each pitting one against the other, I have selected. In the end, there will be some discussion over my ranking of each wrestler. However, the main focus will be returning to the original posit and a discussion of my findings. Since each blog will only contain 2 matches per wrestler, it will be hard to prove anything right away. To reiterate (Insert Moments ago WWE video package) this will be a dynamic document that will constantly re-evaluating its stance on wrestlers, promotions and matches. 

For example, I will be trying to answer the question: “What is the Ric Flair Formula and how closely did he adhere to it?”. Today, I will be writing about his matches with Jumbo Tsuruta and Kerry Von Erich and will analyze the question in the context of those matches. However, I have matches against Koko Ware and Butch Reed sitting on my hardrive (DREAM MATCHES~!; They are supposed to be very good, actually). I am sure when I watch these matches I will unearth new information that will force me to re-evaluate my earlier opinion. This dynamic re-evaluation is what will make this blog very unique and interesting. It will be a living document rather than many wrestling reviews that are written as static pieces done in a vacuum. Enough tooting of my own horn, but I sure do love it, this blowhard is finally ready to unveil the first line-up of “2 Out of 3 Falls”: “Nature Boy” Ric Flair, “Modern Day Warrior” Kerry Von Erich and Jumbo Tsuruta. To celebrate the inaugural 2 Out Of Three Falls, all the matches are 2 Out of 3 Falls matches. I don't sing it, I just bring it.

NWA World Heavyweight Champion Ric Flair

It was a testament to Flair’s ability in and out of the ring that he could venture to any territory in the world and draw as a credible main event act against a myriad of opponents including, but not limited to  the Von Erichs in Texas, Dusty and Windham in Florida, Jumbo and Tenryu in Japan, Brisco and Steamboat in Mid-Atlantic, DiBiasie and Reed in Mid-South, Lawler in Memphis, Sting and Luger in WCW. Ric Flair was the last of the touring National Wrestling Alliance World Heavyweight Champions, a responsibility entrusted to a few men in history to draw large crowds no matter the region he entered. The National Wrestling Alliance was not a monolithic entity like today’s WWE rather it was comprised of promotions in United States, Canada, Mexico, Caribbean, Japan, and Australia. All these promotions recognized one World Heavyweight Champion, who they expected would come to their territory and pop a great attendance after building up a successful hometown challenger. In a very condensed form, this was the successful business model of pro wrestling in the 60s, 70s and early 80s. In the 80s, it was tasked to Ric Flair to execute this business model.    

The secret to Flair’s success purportedly was his well-crafted, universal formula that he could apply to any wrestler in any territory with a great deal of success. This formula exploited the lack of national TV exposure each territory received. As we will see in the upcoming match reviews, Flair had the challenging task of wrestling such diverse opponents as Jumbo Tsuruta in Japan and Kerry Von Erich in Texas. The assertion is that Flair was able to work in similar spots into his matches because he knew the people in Texas would not see his match in Japan and vice versa. Ric Flair was the last touring champion in wrestling history. In order to expedite his work, he developed basically a one-man match and all the other person had to do was execute the spots Flair told him to (creative license usually was allowed in the comeback/finish). I always thought it was a compliment that everyone said Ric Flair could wrestle a broom to a three star match, but it seems it may have been a subtle dig at the “Ric Flair Show”. My exploration over the next weeks or so is to see how strictly Flair adhered to any formula and what that formula is.

My own feelings going into this is that there is a loose formula he follows and some trademark spots, but it is wildly over-stated how closely he follows that formula. I have noticed in the past what Bret Hart has called “ Flair’s rampant non-psychology”, where Flair will shoehorn spots into a match that do really fit into the flow of the match. A good example of this is Rick Martel and Jerry “The King” Lawler doing press slam spots when they are clearly too short to do so. My hypothesis is that formula is the following:

Babyface Shine (Flair is repeatedly frustrated that face is getting the upper-hand on the mat) -> Flair in frustration starts to take short-cuts, but still cant get the upper-hand ->Transition to heat segment -> Heat segment (usually over the leg) -> Comeback (opponent dependent) -> Finish

ASIDE: If you asked me a couple months ago, who the greatest pro wrestler was of all-time. I would have said without reservation: Ric Flair. Now I have doubts, not because I have someone better (Nick Bockwinkel’s stock has gone way up in the past couple weeks) or that I think Flair is worse. It is just strange that I have anointed Flair the best when I have only watched his career from 1988-Now. Yet his peak was between 1981-1990. I was capturing just three years of his peak before. How can one make an affirmative statement of greatness based off post-peak years? It was clear to me that I was simply braying the wrestling axiom that ensnared so many wrestling minds: Ric Flair was the greatest because that’s what we are told to say. I aint no sheep, so it is time to put Flair to the test and evaluate his performance in as many scenarios as I can obtain. Also as a matter of opinion, I love formulas. It is beyond irritating when people trumpet experimentalism for the sake of experimentalism. If you are the Rolling Stones, more power to you, not many can pull off succeeding in a myriad of genres. If you are AC/DC, more power to you, not many can pull off that many hits playing basically the same song. Just give me what I like. When I say formula in a wrestling match, I am talking about the structure of his layout. I acknowledge that Flair is a versatile performer that could work a 10-mintue TV sprint, a technical Broadway masterpiece and a wild, bloody brawl. There is no doubt in my mind regarding that. My doubts stem from the accusations that formula merely plugged wrestlers interchangeably into spots. I do not like the idea that Lawler, Luger and Steamboat are interchangeable wrestlers.

Wrestling's Favorite Horseface (I kid, I kid)

Von Erich and Tsuruta could not be more different opponents. Kerry was cast in mold of Hogan and Luger with the body of Adonis, but who without a certain degree of structure could lose his way in a match. Plenty of people have sold Kerry short as a complete package wrestling citing he needed the hot Texas crowds to enhance his matches and his selling and bumping were sub-par. He was wildly popular in Texas, total freakin rock star package and it did not really matter what the fuck he did in the ring; it was probably going to get over. However, as a fan of wrestling (rather than a mark for Von Erich) Kerry definitely benefits from a set structure, which facilitates how and when he sells, his offensive psychology and his own pacing. Flair’s style affords him a means to elevate to a level of being an upper echelon performer. I seek to evaluate Kerry as a wrestler and see where and when he breaks down as a wrestler especially in matches from outside Japan. By watching him face Flair in Texas as a challenger and Tsuruta in Japan as the champion, I will be given a good comparative metric to evaluate how Kerry is as a worker in different environments and how he interacts in each. As the Von Erichs were the Rockstars of Texas, Tsuruta was the King of All-Japan Pro Wrestling. That is where the comparisons stop.   

Jumbo Tsuruta, AWA World Heavyweight Champion and All Japan Triple Crown Champion

Jumbo Tsuruta is the great unknown gem in this set of three. Before my exploration, I saw Jumbo as the veteran of the All-Japan Pro Wrestling Early 90s scene, who passed the torch to the vaunted Four Pillars of Heaven (Mitsuharu Misawa, Toshiaki Kawada, Kenta Kobashi and Akira Taue). Yes, he had some terrific classics against Misawa in the early 90s but much like Flair that was his post-prime work. So I set out to discover if Jumbo Tsuruta could stake his claim to be the greatest Japanese pro wrestler in history. Before this exploration, I would say that Kawada, Misawa and Liger are really in a league all their own, but that conclusion is derived from watching 90s puroresu (Japanese for pro wrestling). So much like Flair, I am hoping from watching 80s puroresu that I will gain a new appreciation for Jumbo Tsuruta and his identity as a performer. Ultimately my goal with Jumbo Tsuruta is determine how he ranks against his successors: the Four Pillars of Heaven.  

NWA World Heavyweight Champion Ric Flair vs Kerry Von Erich
August 18, 1982 Dallas, TX
2 Out Of Three Falls

Unlike the other two matches, I have viewed this match beforehand and I absolutely loved it upon first viewing. Each time, I discover new spots and elements that make it a better match. Such as during the abdominal stretch, Von Erich makes a point to exaggerate his gesture that he is looking to put on the Claw, which really whips the crowd into a frenzy. The crowd was nuclear for Kerry from the get-go and totally rabid at the prospect of him dethroning Ric Flair especially after defeating previous Champion Harley Race in a de facto No. 1 Contender’s match just months previous to this. Flair, as usual, is a cardio freak, but my favorite moment is how he slowly ramps up his heelishness. At first testing his strength and clearly being bested, he resorts to hair pulling to win an over the top wristlock. Another thing, I love is that when Kerry has Flair in a head scissors in the beginning, they do not just lie on the mat. Flair is very broadly attempting to escape the hold, but cant. This does two things, it puts over Kerry’s strength and most importantly, keeps the audience engaged. Flair does a lot of things really well, but he is exceptional at keeping the audience engaged even during perfunctory matwork.

The beginning is all about putting over Kerry’s strength. This is accomplished by holding multiple head-scissors, winning over the top wristlocks and a visually impressive arm wrench that Flair bumps wells, which the crowd pops loudly for.  Flair gets some offense in the corner, which is Flair’s domain. Besides Vader, I do not think there is a wrestler that is better in the corner than Flair. Flair takes over with a knee-lift and begins taking shortcuts like the aforementioned hair pull. Off a missed elbow, they do a well-executed tussle for the ab stretch I brought up earlier. I love how they made each other work for it with Kerry ultimately winning. An eye-rake (Flair shortcuts) breaks it up, but Kerry hits two pretty impressive dropkicks. Flair’s next shortcut is to hold the rope down as Kerry crashes to the floor, which leads to Flair’s big flurry of offensive: dropping Kerry across the top rope, knee drop and piledriver. Kerry catches Flair with back body drop, but Flair blocks the corner. Flair pushes the ref, but as Kerry winds up for the discus punch he catches the ref in the head. Kerry puts on the sleeper, BUT THERE IS NO REF, here he comes and now the bell is ringing. KERRY WINS THE FIRST FALL!!! Right!?!?! Right!?!?!?


 The original referee disqualifies Kerry for the punch much to the dismay of the crowd and to relief of a visually exhausted and desperate Flair. I liked the finish to the first fall even if it was a clusterfuck because Kerry was clearly put over as more dominant than Flair. Flair’s escape with a DQ finish in the first fall allows for Kerry to once again be perceived as the underdog as he has the unenviable task to win two straight falls against The Man. Another great element is that all of Flair’s control segments were initiated by shortcuts thus always making Kerry look better in comparison.

The second fall rules all and by itself would probably be one of my favorite matches of all time. Flair is still coughing from the sleeper hold and begs off immediately. Kerry and the crowd smell blood. Kerry slaps on the sleeper, but Flair makes use of the Bret leverage move to send Kerry crashing to the floor. Flair capitalizes this by wrenching Kerry’s leg across the apron. NOW WE GO TO SCHOOL!!! Flair is absolutely crazed during this control segment as he clearly a desperate champ doing anything to take down the physically superior Kerry Von Erich. Flair hits the shinbreaker to a physically diminished Von Erich side-headlock. After Flair works over the leg, it is time for the Figure-4 Leglock whipping the crowd into frenzy. Just minutes ago, they thought their hero had the first fall in the bag and now it looks he is about to lose two straight falls. WAIT!!! Kerry had reversed the pressure and now Flair scrambles for the ropes. Flair tries to go back to the knee, but Keryr blocks with the vaunted Von Erich Claw. Flair blades like a champ off the claw and eventually is pinned. Flair’s control segment was fuckin awesome and Kerry sold his knee like champ. Then when it came to the hit finish everyone erupted when the claw was slapped on just when it seemed like Flair had this one in the bag.

Flair is drenched in sweat and blood and looking for a fight with the universal sign of “Put up your dukes”. A spirited two-minute intense brawl breaks out and the ref loses control of the match. At first, I was disappointed by the finish, but in retrospect it is a really good to put over the intense nature of the match and it would ultimately setup the Huge Christmas Day 1982 Cage match.

The basic idea of the Flair formula was executed, which is to make your opponent look like a million bucks and keep the audience engaged. However, Flair was not always a chickenshit heel as he vacillated among begging off, desperation and crazed. There was an urgency to each fall. Kerry felt like he NEEDED to win the first one and came out hot, but was robbed. Kerry NEEDED to win the second one or he lost, but by the same token Flair felt he NEEDED to win based off Kerry’s stellar performance in the first fall. Kerry played his part well and definitely added more than just his Texas star power. He sold well and worked hard to keep up with Flair and sell the importance of the match. I LOVE this match because there is never a dull moment and the match builds perfectly on itself until the wild brawl at the end.

NWA World Heavyweight Champion Ric Flair vs Jumbo Tsuruta
June 8, 1983 Tokyo, Japan
2 Out Of Three Falls

I have no idea why I did not think to look up more of Flair in Japan before this because this shit rocks. It was like finding wrestling nirvana. Flair in Japan is just BITCHIN~! I have only watched this match twice, but both times I was impressed by that pace they cut (SPOILER ALERT: 60 Minute Draw) and by the interesting, yet peculiar match progression. It struck me how both matches contained a desperation Flair control segment and I think that is an overlooked element of the Flair Formula. Not only does the formula make the opponent look good, but Flair busts out plenty of big moves for when he kicks into high-gear and tries to win the match at all costs.

The beginning match see Jumbo work over the back of Flair (most announcers would say here that Flair broke his back in a plane crash in 1975, which is true. However, the commentary is in Japanese so I don’t know if they added that bit in) which begins with most BEAUTIFULLY seamless hiptoss block into an abdominal stretch you will ever see. Another note is how well Jumbo sells Flair’s punches. In Japan, the no punching rule is taken very seriously and when one wrestler punches another wrestler they make sure to sell it like death and the crowd always Oooooos and Aaaahhhhs. First unusual Flair spot is that he POWERS out of a camel clutch. O so you think you’re Hogan now. Flair takes over in the corner and kind of botches a short arm scissor. I just watched Bockwinkel/Hennig work an awesome short arm scissor sequence and this one came off a bit lackluster. Flair transitions into a hammerlock as we reach the 15th minute mark.

Jumbo counters with a sweet drop toehold into a leg scissors and then immediately returns to the back with one his signature moves: the Boston Crab. After Flair makes the ropes, Jumbo hits an atomic drop (which pops the crowd thinking he would go for the back drop driver) and Flair’s butterfly suplex (have not watched enough Jumbo to know if that is a Jumbo move). I will say the atomic drop seemed out of place because from a storyline point of view he should have just hit his finisher that being said the atomic drop may be a Jumbo move. Flair uses Jumbo’s own momentum to send him crashing to the floor. Flair kicks out of a Jumbo sunset flip only to hit Jumbo with Jumbo’s own finisher: the back drop driver. They do a random arm stretch/standing surfboard sequence, which kind of harkens back to  Flair’s arm psychology and allows Flair to do a test of strength spot. Flair transitions into his own abdominal stretch where he actually grapevines his leg around Jumbo’s leg. GORILLA WOULD BE PUMPED!!!! Jumbo hiptosses out of it and gets a two off a cross-body block. A slugfest erupts while they are on their knees and Flair’s verbal selling becomes a real highlight. Another thing where I think Flair has no peer is verbal selling. Flair and Jumbo are chopping back and forth until Jumbo says “FUCK IT” and belts Flair with an enziguri. Flair ends up outside and goads Jumbo over only to catch his leg and wrench it across the apron. You will see this is a great tactic because the audience will think they are entering the Flair control segment only for their hero is pull it right out. Flair picks up a single leg only to get belted again with an enziguri. Jumbo wastes no time and MURDERS Flair with a high-knee and then polishes him off with his Back Drop Driver at the 30th minute mark. If the match ended there, it would have been a great match with some weird Flair-ism spots, but still a great match. However, there is more, much, much more!


Flair is visibly rattled as they start the next fall and Jumbo immediately goes in for the kill with uncharacteristic stiff strikes. Up until that point, Jumbo had been using only wrestling holds and throws unless provoked. Flair goads him into the corner and takes over with a well-executed suplex and piledriver sequence. Then Flair enters the front face-lock control segment attempting to get pinfalls off of it. Flair hits a second piledriver and then drops Jumbo throat-first across the ropes (another unusual Flair spot as that is a strength spot). Flair hits a pair of standing elbow drops for a  2 count. Flair, frustrated throws him to the outside, but on the suplex attempt back in Flair is the one who ends up on the outside. The newly vicious Jumbo sends Flair head first into the post and consequently Flair blades off that. Jumbo gets a ten punch count in the corner  and Flair is putting over his exhaustion by whiffing on a couple of punches. A series of wick hot near-falls occur as Jumbo gets two off a high-knee and vertical suplex. Whoever said Japanese crowds are quiet and respectful have never listened to this raucous crowd as they cheered on their hero, Jumbo Tsuruta. Jumbo whips Flair into the corner and does his Flair Flip only this time he gets caught in the Tree of Woe. Jumbo pounces and Flair is in deep trouble. So what does the Dirtiest Player in the Game do, well he hits him below the belt of course. They do the Flair bridge into a backslide sequence, which was another hot false finish as that ends 45 minutes of the match.

Jumbo misses a move off the top as Flair connects with a punch to the gut, but Flair is too exhausted to capitalize, which allows Tsuruta to hit the missile dropkick on Flair, which gets two. Now Flair is up and bodyslams him only to be slammed off the top by Jumbo. Why, Flair, why?!!?!?  Huge Tsuruta chant rings out through the arena. Flair ducks out of the way of a Jumbo high-knee which sends him careening to the floor. Immediately, Flair FINALLY begins his leg work in earnest and the crowd grows worried. Flair grabs the first figure-4, but Jumbo reverses the pressure. Flair wraps Jumbo’s leg around the steel ring post then follows that up with a delayed vertical suplex, standing elbow drop and a trademark WOOOOO for two. Figure 4 another two more times, but Jumbo refuses to give in before the time limit draw.

 I thought for sure given the context of this match Jumbo would be the one with the hot string of near falls at the end before falling just short due to the time limit draw. This ending seemed more appropriate if Flair was the challenger as the fans would be rooting for Jumbo to hang on. Instead as the viewer, I felt like well whether Flair wins this fall or it goes to a draw it doesn’t really matter because Flair retains either way. The only thing you could root for as a Jumbo fan would be the fact that since Jumbo never lost a fall and indeed gained a fall on the champion that he would be due a rematch, but overall I think the ending hurt it. I think if you swap the final 15 minutes with the 30-45 minute portion the match becomes a ***** classic even with the bits of Flair non-psychology. As it stands it is incredible fun, well-worked, brisk one hour draw that had a shit ton of action. I think it is below the Flair vs Kerry match. However, Jumbo has another chance to top Flair as his match with Kerry Von Erich is next.

NWA World Heavyweight Champion Kerry Von Erich vs Jumbo Tsuruta
05/22/1984 Tokyo, Japan
2 Out Of Three Falls

Earlier in the month, Tsuruta dropped the AWA World Heavyweight Championship to Rick Martel. Therefore the Japanese crowd is extra hot to see their hero regain a World Heavyweight championship and there is some more credence to their cheers because of his AWA title victory over Nick Bockwinkel in February of 1984. Von Erich, FINALLY, dethroned the “Diriest Player In The Game” Ric Flair on May 6, 1984 at the David Von Erich Memorial down in Texas. Kerry went on tour immediately having great matches with arch-rivals Terry Gordy and Ric Flair. As was customary, Kerry ventured across the Pacific to defend against the top Japanese challenger: Jumbo Tsuruta.

Whoever made the up the fact about quiet Japanese crowds is dead wrong after watching these past two matches. The first fall is about respect with non-clean breaks teased. Both wrestlers sit the other on top the top turnbuckle as to say I am just toying with you. Besides a claw attempt, this is all Jumbo, who eventually finishes with his super hot combo of two high knees -> Enziguri -> Back Drop Driver to take the first fall.

A bloody Kerry takin a lickin from Jumbo Tsuruta

Jumbo starts the second fall much like the second fall against Flair with lots of stiff, hot strikes. Kerry actually blades off these punches and the Japanese crowd thinks another World Heavyweight Championship is coming home to them. Kerry has a pretty good dropkick that no one ever talks about and he is very much on the defensive. Jumbo follows up a big slap with a piledriver. However, it seems Jumbo has punched himself out. Kerry capitalizes on this opening with a discus punch followed by THE CLAW~! Jumbo bridges out of THE CLAW~! In an impressive feat of strength. However, he ultimately succumbs to the undeniable force of THE CLAW~!

There is a great visual during the respite between the second and third falls as Jumbo is being attended to by all the Japanese ringboys and the crowd is exhorts him. A bloody Kerry Von Erich is a man alone, isolated and visibly pissed that he is in a middle of this war with no help. It is just a great juxtaposition. Now it is Kerry’s turn to start hot, but the claw attempt is blocked only for Jumbo to take that claw hand and dismantle it. I mean if it was metal, Jumbo was throwing that hand into it. Von Erich connects with a punch, but is immediately sent back reeling in pain because of how brutally Jumbo has attacked it. Von Erich makes a comeback with a flurry of back suplex, an elbow, piledriver, but misses the Tenryu elbow drop from the top. Jumbo connects with the high-knee and employs his favorite hold: the Boston Crab. Kerry powers out of it and after a couple of roll-up exchanges they end up on the outside. Kerry puts the CLAW~! On, but Jumbo executes the Back Drop Driver on the floor only for the referee to count out both men. In a double countout, Kerry Von Erich retains the title, but hometown hero Jumbo Tsuruta gets the moral victory of being the last man standing.

I still do not feel like I have good grasp of what a Kerry Von Erich match looks like and what his offensive arsenal is. Everything seems to revolve around THE CLAW~! In addition, towards the end of the match he started to use his hand again to punch taking away from the whole hook of the match. It was a spirited, intense title match that I liked a lot mainly due to the well-executed hand psychology and Jumbo’s large repertoire of moves.


1. Ric Flair – So I will say that picking a Jumbo match was not probably the best way to gauge a Flair Formula match because Japan is much different than Mid-Atlantic or Mid-South.  What it did prove is that under extreme circumstances Flair could and would adapt to different situations. He wrestled way “bigger” against Jumbo than any of his other opponents. He matched Jumbo bomb for bomb in an excellent one hour bomb-throwing contest. Against Kerry, Flair vacillated between showing ass for Kerry, being desperate and being violently crazy. He showed a range of emotions that were created by what was going on in the match in an organic fashion. It is truly one of the most superb Flair performances. I would say there is a Flair Formula, but it is no different than the verse-chorus-verse formula. It is what you do with that formula that matters. Nobody is going to get the Ramones confused with Judas Priest. Nobody would get Flair vs Jumbo and Flair vs Kerry Von Erich confused as they great variations on a tried and true formula.

2. Jumbo Tsuruta – I need to watch more Jumbo matches to really understand if he is more in the mold of working holds to target a certain body part (Kerry’s hand) or if he is a bomb thrower (Flair’s match). Jumbo reminds me very much of Kobashi with his very expressive face especially during Kerry’s match as opposed to the more stoic approach of Misawa. Of course, Kobashi was inspired by Jumbo, not the other way around. I just happen to be more familiar with Kobashi. There are very few people that cannot be upstaged by Ric Flair. Unfortunately for Jumbo, he was upstaged by Ric Flair. I do know this is that he was excellent in both these matches, which are two of the greatest matches of all time. I have watched his encounters against Bockwinkel and Martel, which will be reviewed at some point and are very good. I think the new question to ask about Jumbo is whether he is a bomb-thrower or a limb psychologist. 

3. Kerry Von Erich - There is no shame in taking third place behind Flair and Jumbo when both are candidates for the greatest of all time. It feels as if Kerry is a one trick pony that his matches revolve around the Claw. I think that is root cause of what will be a repetitive formula. Flair and Jumbo have enough tricks and gimmicks to ensure their matches are not the same. However, with just the CLAW, Kerry will be at a disadvantage to have unique matches. I do not have a good sense of what Kerry spots are. In the Flair match, he was clearly working Flair spots that were built around his Claw. The Jumbo match was built around his hand and the claw, which was really cool. I have watched a couple Kerry matches and have never seen this psychology employed before so it may be an isolated Jumbo employment.  He sold well in both his encounters besides the punches towards the end of the Jumbo match, which I thought took away from the hook of the match. As an 80s heavyweight babyface, I accept the fact he will not be bumping like a pinball for the heels and will let that slide.  The Japan match proved that Kerry could work really well in an environment outside of Texas. In addition, Kerry was athletic and demonstrated good psychology. I look forward to watching more Kerry Von Erich and evaluating him further.

The next 2 Out of 3 Falls will definitely include Hulk Hogan. If anybody who reads this happens to have an opinion they can say whether they want the pairing of Terry Funk & Stan Hansen or Harley Race & Bob Backlund they can let me know.  



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