A match I watched on the insistence of some followers on Twitter who recommended I see it after I tweeted about rewatching the famous dog collar match between these two. The way people spoke of it to me, the comparison that came to mind is the Steamboat/Savage Toronto house show match that far eclipses the touted WrestleMania III match. While I don’t think the gap between this and the dog collar match is quite as significant as the one between the two Steamboat/Savage matches, I can certainly see why some prefer this to the dog collar match.

This keeps a much more brisk pace. As both men are still in the thick of their feud instead of winding down towards the climax, there’s a rawness to their ferocity here. The opening exchanges are frenzied with Piper, in particular, standing out as a furious babyface out for revenge. Piper’s energy just leaps off the screen in this. He’s literally shaking with anger, he can hardly contain his bloodthirsty rage.

As such this is filled with all the best qualities of a good 80s brawl. A lot of solid punches, a gritty sense of realism expertly combined with the kind of expressive theatrics you need to play to a big arena. Valentine’s known for his delayed sell, but he has more than that in his arsenal if you care to look. A particular favorite of mine was how he launched off the ropes from a Piper hotshot.

Of course, this feud has been built around Piper’s injured ear so we get some ear work in this. Valentine goes to it constantly in this match from some real solid elbows in the beginning, to a wicked attack where he rams Piper headfirst into the ringpost. That being said, there’s never a steady heat segment where he really gets to go to town on it as Piper does well to make explosive comebacks in spite of the attack. It’s not a bad choice necessarily but I think there’s opportunity for Piper’s selling to shine elsewhere (read: at Starrcade).

That being said, this match is about Piper using his anger for pure vengeance, and it plays out as it should. The finish sees him dragging the ringside rope barricade into the ring in an attempt to choke out Valentine, which draws the DQ. The visual of Piper cranking back on that ring rope, trying to drain the life from Greg Valentine, is truly fantastic stuff. One feels vindication for Piper, if not yet full satisfaction. A perfect middle chapter for such a heated feud.

I can’t say that I’d have this over the dog collar match, but I certainly don’t have any problem with anyone who does. It is wild, it is crazy, and it’s a perfect lead in to the Starrcade classic.

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