A first time encounter (as far as I can tell) between two legends of the game and it is, predictably, excellent. What jumps off the screen immediately is how fully formed Flair’s performance in this feels, still a full three years before his first ever NWA World Championship win. His is the performance one comes away from this match really remembering. That’s not meant to be a slight on Jumbo at all, but the best things in this match are directly related to Flair.

For one, Flair really pushes the pace of this match early on. The first fall isn’t so much methodical and worked around extended holds, but it’s a rather fast paced bit of counter wrestling and bumping. Very much reminiscent of what would later become Flair’s really high energy bumping in extended babyface shines. But I was genuinely surprised at how quick these two were moving through the action in that first fall especially compared to how similar matches with Jumbo from this time period plays out.

And really, the things Flair does in that first fall are so great. So many heels will pull the trunks or grab them in the most obvious ways only to get a cheap finish these days but Flair made an art of that. He constantly uses the tights for any advantage in this, notably yanking on them to pull Jumbo into his strikes. He uses the trunks to set up his signature knee to the gut or even just to add some pressure to body shots in the corner. It’s such a nasty little thing to help put over Flair as a heel.

Flair’s also incredibly adept at throwing strikes. It gets lost sometimes in the discussion of his ring work but he’s throwing some fantastic blows in this. The body shots, the clubbing forearms to the chest, all those land with a real solid and satisfying thud every time. When he goes about punching, those look great too, complemented by some great whiplash selling from Jumbo.

And really, it’s the selling that Jumbo brings to this thing. The second fall is built entirely around Flair picking apart the champion’s leg to set up the Figure Four. He does all his trademark leg work which secures him a submission win with the Figure Four at the end of the fall. Jumbo’s so hobbled in the final leg. He’s clearly tentative trying to get back into the fight and his leg is giving a hard time finding a way to get back in the advantage. Flair goes right back for the leg again, trying to set up another Figure Four, but Jumbo grabs a small package to sneak the victory.

Just really enjoyable championship-style wrestling with a steady progression and distinct falls that progress to a reasonable finish. Two all time greats putting on a great match, and one can tell that these two aren’t even scratching the surface of what they can do individually as well.

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