Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Six of the Best; The Riot Squad

Welcome again grapple fans, today we look at tag team action. British wrestling featured tag teams just from time to time, and just to keep things special, not that often. In '82 someone must have upped the budget because they put a whole tournament on TV. The key element in out current six of the best being The Riot Squad. The Riot Squad in the long term ended up being a group of top notch workers who would have their biggest impact on WCW and WWE. The original Riot Squad composed of Dave Fit Finlay and ultra heel Skull Murphy. We talked a lot about Dave in the last blog, but this tag team would be the one that drew the most money for Joint Promotions in the early 80's through their TV battles with Marty Jones and any number of partners. Here they are in a tournament for the World of Sport Top Tag Team title and apparently belts against The Jets. How Alan Kilby and Steve Logan came up with The Jets I have no idea, neither of them moved that quickly. Kilby was the then British Heavy Middleweight champion. A deaf wrestler who used it to his advantage in matches but was as clean as country water. This Steve Logan is not The Steve Logan of Steve Logan and Mick MacManus fame, another Steve Logan who also happens to be a Middleweight. Because that's not confusing at all.

Anyway; seconds away . . .

This bout occurred not long after the Davey Boy Smith match we looked at last time, but already Finlay has changed his style and has headed full on heel. The disrespectful early striking and attacking his grounded man the easiest way to get heat in a British ring. Then we get to see our first look at Skull Murphy, a light heavyweight here but showing signs of heading up to the heavy bracket, his submission style on display from the start. Kent nicely explains the rules to us, the combined weight in each corner can not exceed 450lbs, well that's nice to know, someone presumably didn't try and enter Big Daddy and feather duster. This did mean close competitive action though as opposed to the usual super-heavyweight tag matches of the time.

Skull and Finlay are clearly trying to work the American style of tag match, the quick tags that everyone is now used to, get it done in the five count. The only thing is that it is illegal under Mountevans rules so it just gets them heat, no bad thing for those concerned. That is the problem with Mountevans tag matches though. With matches few and far between on TV, great teams like the Royal Brothers managed in spite of the rules apparently disallowing excitement of any kind, but The Riot Squad are already showing a flair for showmanship that would raise the ire of a thousand hand bags. Young Logan does look incredibly out of his depth against the methodical Riot Squad, though he shows a bit of fight in his early sequences. The rather limp head to the knee of Finlay highlights how slow they where going in comparison to the stiff encounter with Davey Boy. Twenty minutes and best of three falls? Good Lord, get you're work done boys this is a tournament match. A brilliant Waltonism as well in session two "the person who lost the fall must continue into the next session first, unless he's unconscious" right, no unconscious people wrestling got it. So Logan starts his comeback to the hot tag, which suffers some credibility issues as he recovers looking in about as much pain as Jeff Hardy after a weekend on extra strong vitamins. In contrast to Logan, Finlay sells the fall like he's been shot. This is the crispness I always enjoyed in his work, as Bobby Lashley recently pointed out "Every thing Finlay does is for a reason and there is no wasted motion" Lashley claimed he learned more on match with Finlay than at any other time in his career. The downfall of this match starts about 0.35 seconds after Logan tags back in. You could announce it. "Ladies and gentleman the jobber will now be beaten". In efficient and as heelistic a style as possible. What we do see is an early version of Skull's standing submission the 'Gator. There was a change in psychology pushed by these two men, Marty Jones, Dynamite and Davey Boy. They all had definitive finishers, guaranteed to put a man away holds. Marty developed his Power Lock later used effectively by Shawn Michaels after being taught it by Jones protege William Regal. Prior to that everyone had a few regular moves that where considered deadly, but nothing like these over powering finishers.  

So grapple fans on to the final; yes two matches in one post!

Some poor fools have to take these two belts home that appear to have been designed by Adrian Street on a gin bender.


The unfortunate finalists are The Fighting Wilson Brothers (it would be really unhelpful if they didn't fight, and I'm sure the Passive Wilson Brothers never would have caught on).  Europe's number on referee Max Ward? That really shows the lack of ambition in pro-wrestling at the time, Max Ward was easily the most recognisable ref in joint Promotions but they could only find the heart to pronounce him best in Europe. Which is the equivalent of announcing him as "above adequate". Combined weight of only 450lbs? The Wilson brothers must have had a few pies after weigh in. But Skull and Dave make it all worth it turning on the bump machine for heavyweight veteran Johnny Tarzan Wilson. Which makes the lack of logic in this match all the more perplexing. The part time Peter Wilson who clearly isn't in his brothers power bracket takes on most of the match and drops the first fall, protecting his brother one might add, when you get the feeling Johnny could have handled them by himself.    

The continuous neck breakers (another American move import, you get the feeling Dave watched a lot of video tape) set up for the finish. Fit and Skull take the belts home where I assume they had a special place on the mantle. The meaning of the match though was much deeper than two belts, the dominated two heavier opponents who where an established tag team, two falls to nil. They had arrived.

The next instalment of six of the best features this man . . .

Still the best Dynamite tribute video ever, you can't whack a bit of Our Lady Peace.

Have a good time, till the next time.

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