I thought it might be fun to ditch the indies for a bit and dig into something more primordial. Here's a clue to my secret identity: the first wrestling I ever saw was Mid-South back in the 80s (I was around 5-ish) and Dick Murdoch was one of the first wrestlers that ever struck a chord with me. My memories of that time are fuzzy, so let's refresh them with some matches from a random volume of The Best of Dick Murdoch:
Tatsumi Fujinami vs. Dick Murdoch (New Japan, 12/16/84)
I dug the hell out of the early goings, with both guys bringing the intensity to a collar and elbow. They go straight into a headlock, which also wins my heart. It's pretty cool to stick a side headlock here and not just make it a go-to slowdown move after something big. Plus they're actively working the move, with the aggressor constantly trying to squeeze harder or get a better grip, and the victim attempting to wriggle free. Good times! The fight goes to the outside and Murdoch uses a chair right in front of the ref and there are no consequences. Japan is like Somalia, lawless and crude. I enjoyed Murdoch's brutal offense here—lots of solid-looking punches and torture-y holds, and at one point he grabs Fujinami's face and tries to pry it off his skull. I'm less enthused about Fujinami's behavior after being mauled. Fighting spirit is fine, but it's almost like Fujinami has decided, "Fuck it, I'm not selling anything!" and just constantly comes back with these too-energetic reversals. It's annoying. He finally gets put down with an enzuigiri, although he never matches Murdoch's sublime selling here. Fujinami fire aside, this is fine until the end, which is a really abrupt spill to the outside and double countout.
Adrian Adonis & Dick Murdoch vs. Gerry & Jack Brisco (WWF, 12/2/84)
Now to America, so get ready for rib-tickling comedy. It begins with Murdoch getting pushed out of the ring after tying up with Jack, then yelling at the ref, "Hey, goddamn it! Do your job!" There's a lot of arm work from the Briscos at the early stages. It doesn't compare well to those headlocks I loved in the Murdoch/Fujinami affair above. The holds here are way more stationary and, worse still, don't really pay off in any meaningful way. Because, soon enough, we switch over to leg work, setting up the figure four which both Briscos masterfully use. Life gets better in this final 3/4 of the match, as we get tons of quick tags, some cool double-teams, and Dick Murdoch hobbling around on his wounded leg like a drunk in a Western saloon. The ref here is garishly horrible, counting pins like a stroke victim, drawing the ire of Gorilla Monsoon on commentary. At one point, action spills to the outside and Murdoch clocks Jack with a telephone, which the ref hilariously ignores. The crowd chants, "Bull-shit!" and I am pleased. I think this ends in a Murdoch/Adonis victory by countout, but the match is clipped before the announcement, so that might be wrong. A little creaky at the outset, but this got very good as the match progressed. Worth checking out.
Dick Murdoch vs. Barry Windham (WWF, 2/16/85)
I was excited about this! Very heated exchange in the tie-up and push to the corner. Murdoch shows the effects of a Windham punch for literally minutes. Barry Windham will not be outsold at selling and he takes some Murdoch elbows and punches with gusto. If you love spills to the outside, this is your new favorite match. Windham gets hiptossed over the top and then later spills over to the floor backwards. Dick Murdoch unloads with some golden, beautiful woozy punching. Then it's back to the outside where Murdoch wallops Windham with a crutch. Once again, no DQ, and it's pointed out on commentary. WWF really needed to work on its referee training, ne? As with Fuji/Murdoch, the end here is rather abrupt and the match never rises above a solid, fun brawl. Still worth seeing, but this didn't seem like a lost classic or anything to me.
Adrian Adonis & Dick Murdoch vs. Tatsumi Fujinami & Kengo Kimura (New Japan, 5/24/85)
Plenty of good chain wrestling from Adonis in the early moments. I really need to check out more Adrian Adonis. Being Southern, I missed out on a lot of the wrestlers from places like New York and Portland. The intense approach to holds is here again, as Murdoch tries to wrench Fujinami's head off in a side headlock. Thankfully, Fujinami is a bit more giving about showing damage here and doesn't immediately fire right back. All four dudes are pretty adept at the exciting wrestling. When Kimura tags in, he delivers a swank-looking leg lariat to Adonis, who spends the entire match awesomely taking or giving lumps. Dick Murdoch says, "Don't forget about me!" and delivers a standing dropkick that literally made me say "WAH?" out loud. You can't go wrong with this match, though. This is pretty choice stuff all the way through until we get to the inevitable countout ending, sending Fujinami and Kimura to victory.
Dick Murdoch vs. The Nightmare (Mid-South, 7/14/85)
Please believe that this brought back memories. Eddie Gilbert seconds the Nightmare and dresses to impress in a silver sequined jacket, indoor sunglasses, and a cane. Dick Murdoch arrives in a white snapback as "The Halls of Montezuma" plays. This is the house show-iest match I have ever seen. Everything is aimed at getting a rise out of the (large) crowd. Referee Carl Fergie keeps preventing Murdoch from punching the Nightmare. A "hit the ref!" chant starts. So, of course, when the punch happens, there's a crowdgasm about it. The brawling parts of the match are fabu, but Murdoch turns it a notch with some flying stuff, including a pair of leapfrogs and a kick-ass flying headscissors. What a versatile dude Dick Murdoch was. Nightmare's pretty good here, too, making his striking offense look credible and delivering a Dibiase-esque second-rope fistdrop. Murdoch goes to the Nightmare's mask a lot, to the delight of the crowd, and then we get an apt ending with botched interference and the villains getting comeuppance. Probably the most fun match on the set and a great example of why wrestling as pure entertainment ain't something to scoff at.