Monday, June 15, 2009

Kerry Von Erich vs. Jumbo Tsuruta 5/22/1984

Quick backstory: The more I watch Jumbo Tsuruta the more I fall in love him. Kerry Von Erich has become a slight fascination to me. He's just one of those guys that has everything going for him in terms of body and charisma. He's not particularly good in the ring but the crowd eats it up. So when I look back at his matches, it's not just to watch him work, but to see how other people try to make him look good. 16 days prior to this, Kerry won the NWA World's Heavyweight Title from Flair in Texas.

Best of Three Falls
Champion: Kerry Von Erich vs. Challenger: Jumbo Tsuruta

From the onset, Jumbo seems to revel in the challenge of reigning Kerry in. Kerry looks pretty focused (for Kerry) so things are looking up. There's plenty of Kerry matches where he's just all over, which can be good and bad. Hopefully with Jumbo we get more good.

Their "getting to know you" stuff is fun. Kerry gets to show off a nice drop kick, Jumbo gets to show off some technical prowess and even a little bit of power. They stay pretty even, with neither man getting a lengthy advantage over the other. At one point, Jumbo teases a double-underhook suplex, and just the tease gets a hot reaction. After a couple attempts he finally gets it over and the crowd loves it. I love it. Making moves seem difficult to pull off really adds to the mystique of a match. I mean how many matches have you watched where I guy just pops off a suplex out of the gate without batting an eye. Usually in a match it's just the guy's finishes that are met with resistance. But here it feels like everything is important.

Jumbo locks on the abdominal stretch and rolls it over for a pin but Kerry kicks out. The crows is already counting along. They tease The IRON CLAW early but Jumbo keeps it out of the face, so Kerry settles for an Iron Ab-Claw. No dice on a sub, but I'm sure it's uncomfortable. I mean it's The Von Erich Claw but on your intestines. One time my brothers and cousins were having a big battle royal and I put The Iron Claw on my brother. For whatever reason his nose started to bleed (honestly I think it's because he was an awful nose picker) and when I pulled my hand away it was covered in blood. No one wanted any part of that move on that day, I assure you.

Twelve minutes in and Jumbo decides to be a dick. It happens when Kerry puts him on the ropes and gives a clean break but Jumbo shoves him to the floor. Kerry gets up ready to throw down. No more Mr. Nice Guy. Jumbo rams Kerry with a couple of big jumping knees sending him to the outside. Kerry responds with a big sunset flip from the apron that fetches him a two-count. Jumbo shocks him with an enzigiri and a back drop for the three. Stunnah.

Scorecard: Jumbo - 1 Kerry - 0
So far we're 14 minutes in and the match has been pretty back and forth. That first fall was really a surprise, as no one had been in control very long and to eat a pin at this point seems kinda weird.

After a reprieve, Jumbo starts taking over, busting open the Modern Day Warrior with some big punches. Seriously, I LOVE JUMBO. Every time he punches Kerry, he looks at the crowd like an excited child going "Look at what I've DONE!" Kerry is equally great flopping around all bloodied up. Eventually he comes back with a sleeper and it works for a little while, until Jumbo runs the guy's head into a turnbuckle to escape. Kerry answers that with a dropkick, but Jumbo is like whatever and starts knocking the kid around with those big time rights again. After a big double bump, Jumbo nails Kerry with a pile-driver for a two count. The crowd was so excited to see a pile-driver. It was a damn good one too, but only a two count.

22 minutes in and Kerry hits a discuss punch that sends Jumbo rebounding off the ropes into THE CLAW!!! THE CLAW!!!! By gahd it's the Iron Claw! Kerry gets him down for a pin, but Jumbo BRIDGES OUT! He actually bridges up on his feet, but Kerry keeps the pressure on and Jumbo is back on the mat for a three count. Coolest spot of the match, and totally unexpected. I've never seen anyone do that to the Claw.

Scorecard: Jumbo -1 Kerry - 1
The ref has to pull Kerry off of Jumbo so they can get another break before the the third fall. Jumbo's ring boys work over his face trying to get the muscles and bones back in order. Wow, what a cool way to put over a move.

Out of the gate Kerry looks cocky and goes for the Claw again. Jumbo narrowly escapes, rolling to the outside. Take a powder big man, you deserve it. Jumbo comes back with a new game plan and starts smashing Kerry's Claw-Hand on the turnbuckle. He then stands on his arm and begins to stomp it. Glorious, glorious. The crowd eats it up and so do I. Oh no, he rakes the hand across the ropes! Kerry tries to come back but his hand is too damaged. Jumbo grabs it and slams it on the metal thing in between the post and the turn buckle. I love it. Every freaking bit of it, this is really so fun to watch. He then pulls Kerry outside and slams it into the post like a wild man.

A Jumbo suplex back in the ring leads to a two count. Jumbo tries to break the guy's arm over his shoulder and the crowd is going nuts for it. He then goes for an armbard and I'm actually shocked. It's kind of weird seeing Kerry getting put in what I see as a very "puro" move. Kerry doesn't sell the armbar very wekk but it's okay. Eventually he gets out of it and hits a pildedriver of his own. He then goes up top but misses a crucial elbow drop. Jumbo responds with a jumping knee and a Boston Crab. TSU-RU-TA! TSU-RU-TA! Kerry reverses it and rolls up Jumbo for a two, Jumbo reverses that into his own roll up for a two and they're trading near falls like Lynn and Van Dam. But it just feels....cooler. They trade some punches and Jumbo goes over the top and pulls Kerry with him. They fight to beat the count out and Kerry locks on The Claw. Jumbo grabs him and hits a back drop suplex, but Kerry won't let go. Jumbo brushes him off and rolls in just after ref counts them out. Jumbo thinks he's won but the ref calls it a double count out. DRAW.

Winner: DRAW and Kerry Von Erich is still your NWA World's Heavyweight Champion.

I don't mind the double count out, but Jumbo acted a little strange - brushing away The Claw so he could roll in as the ten count finished. Looked like he wanted to look like the winner despite the draw. Which is fine by me. Lord knows Kerry has had enough draws where he came out still looking like a world beater down in Texas. The bulk of the match was fun and pretty equal for both guys. Neither spent too much time getting hammered on by the others. Jumbo was really creative throughout, whether it was the bridging up in the claw or the working of the hand, he was truly kickin' ass. Kerry was Kerry, which depending on your opinion, is either okay or not okay. He's a little awkward, as per usual, but he's got so much natural fire and charisma about him that it makes up for a lot of it. If you can find it, watch it. It's good.

A little trivia: As I mentioned, Kerry won the title 16 days before this match. 2 days later he would lose it back to Ric Flair in Yokosuka, Japan, giving him the 12th shortest reign in NWA history.

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