Dusty Rhodes vs. Jerry Lawler from USA Championship Wrestling 2002
Post by Bill Thompson
I’m a big fan of wrestlers who are able to recognize their limitations and work within said limitations. There’s nothing more annoying than wrestlers who try to do more than they can handle. Often times simple is best, because though it won’t always produce greatness taking the simple route avoids the chance for overexposure. This match is a terrific example of two veterans choosing to go the simple route and producing a quality professional wrestling match as a result of their decision.
Jerry Lawler and Dusty Rhodes know how old they are, what their bodies have been through, and just what the audience expects from them on this day. Those are the parameters around which they build their match. That means that the main focus of the match is on building to a climax through anticipation. To that end, the opening moments of the match feature lots and lots of teasing. I don’t believe any meaningful contact is made until at least four or so minutes into the match. Yet, those first four minutes are wrought with tension as Lawler and Rhodes dance around one another and tease strike exchanges and lockups.
In the hands of two lesser performers, I could see a match built around a few Punches, Elbow Strikes, and a pair of attempted pinfalls being a big ball of nothing. Rhodes and Lawler are a different breed though, they are able to use their understanding or presence and charisma to grab the viewer/audience and make them care about the minimal amount of work they are doing. In a roundabout way, Rhodes and Lawer do a lot of heavy lifting with their minimal approach, and it is a joy to watch.
Listen, I’m not going to sit here and pretend that Rhodes versus Lawler is a bonanza of action. It most certainly isn’t that type of match. What this match constitutes is two legends manipulating a crowd, and me, into caring about them simply being in the ring with one another. For that reason, alone I’m willing to call this splendid time spent watching a match. It helps that the few things that Lawler and Rhodes do they are able to do with the best of them, outside of a messed up Rhodes stacked pinfall that is. Anyways, I had fun watching Lawler and Rhodes do their thing. That’s what I was hoping to get out of this match, that’s what I was given, and that’s why I leave the match a happy fella.