Let’s take a brief holiday from Japan and have a look at some grappling from Great Britain!
The World of Sport style of wrestling is an acquired taste, but it’s one that I’ve readily achieved. I’d say William Regal and Fit Finlay were my “gateway drugs”; I watched their American work, then watched their World of Sport matches, and once I’d adapted to that style, I was able to enjoy similar matches from wrestlers I’d never heard of before, such as Jim Breaks, Mick McManus, and Mark “Rollerball” Rocco.
It also helps that I’m something of an Anglophile. I don’t know how well this formula works with someone who isn’t already predisposed towards British dialects and customs.
All that to say that I liked this match. It wasn’t the best WoS match I’ve seen, but it did enough to get its story over and make me want to see the rest of the tournament of which is was a part.
It’s pretty obvious upon an initial glance that Ross and little Owen Hart (he was only 18 at the time) are major underdogs against the Northern Irish team of Finlay and Moran. Finlay hadn’t grown out his mullet or mustache yet, but his stocky frame and willingness to skirt the rules made him a force to be reckoned with. Tall and lanky Moran did have his mustache and puffy hair, and his caveman singlet made him stand out pretty strongly against all the other guys speedos.
Owen took the majority of the punishment, getting a few small hope spots here and there. I’m not sure what they were thinking when they worked out this match, but there were several points where it looked like Owen should’ve taken control, even briefly, but he just kind of stopped and got kicked or forearmed and continued taking punishment. I think he was still a little green, and Finlay and Moran didn’t want to hold up the match while he thought about what to do next, so they just took over. Meanwhile, Ross didn’t really do a whole lot.
Here’s a weird spot for you: the tallest man in the match (Moran) jumping on the smallest (Owen) and applying a victory roll to get the first fall. Here’s another one: Owen getting the second fall on Moran with a German suplex out of nowhere after taking a million body slams and whips into the corner. That one’s not so weird, I guess, considering it surprised Moran, and in the context of this wrestling style, it’s a pretty hefty hold that not a lot of people kick out of. It also helped fire up the heels for the third fall, which Finlay picked up with a Samoan drop on Owen (after bashing him with a forearm).
Looking at it with American sensibilities, this match really could’ve used a hot tag. After all the peril that Owen was in, one would think that he’d eventually slip free and dive to Ross for a tag, and then Ross would come in and clean house for a bit. Nothing like that happened. I guess the closest thing was Owen getting a tag while in a half crab, forcing Finlay to break the hold. But Ross took a beating almost as soon as he came in.
Overall, I guess I’d give this match a moderate recommendation. If you’re coming to see the Owen Hart you’re used from the WWF or Stampede, you won’t see him, but you will get some hints at the Fit Finlay you remember from WCW and WWE. And I definitely recommend everyone checking out more World of Sport.
Next up: a Wrestlemania rematch in Japan!
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