In at #68, we have the late, great Rowdy Roddy Piper’s first and only entry on this list! I am surprised that his outing against Bret Hart at WrestleMania VIII isn’t on here (and I’m guessing if this list was conjured up after Piper’s death, it would have been!), but I guess Bret Hart does have more than his fair share of matches on the list. We’ve encountered Starrcade 1983 at #78, with the enthralling clash between Harley Race and Ric Flair (click here for my review), but Piper and Valentine give us an equally enthralling, yet completely different, match.
A ‘dog collar’ match does what it says on the tin: Piper and Valentine wore dog collars, which were connected by a metal chain. The stipulation came as a result of the heated feud between the two, fuelled by Valentine’s assault on Piper’s ear at an event. I expected a slow-paced and dull bout, full of stalling and lousy strikes. I couldn’t have been more wrong. After starting with Piper trying to injure Valentine’s neck by wrenching back with his whole body weight on the chain, the first blows are exchanged and a wild brawl ensues.
One criticism I had of the bout pitting Dusty Rhodes vs Ric Flair was that it consisted of strikes and little else (click here for my review). The same can be said about this bout; there’s barely a wrestling move in sight. But the difference here is that the strikes are incredibly stiff and punishing. Valentine was renowned for being a stiff worker, and Piper doesn’t pull his punches here, either. They absolutely clobber each other with their fists and the chain relentlessly. In the first five minutes of the bout, Piper wraps the chain around Valentine’s head and eyes in hideous fashion. They pummel each other and choke each other with the chain. And the brawl makes sense in terms of their feud. Piper just wants to beat the stuffing out of Valentine, and Valentine wants to target Piper’s ear to put him off balance (yes, the psychology sounds a little naff, but it works within the constraints of the bout!)
It’s a brawl that you can’t take your eyes off. It quickly becomes bloody, thanks to a cut on Valentine’s head and the assault on Piper’s ear. I think it’s the first time I’ve ever seen a wrestler bleed from the ear. Unfortunately, the brawl does run out of steam towards the end. It looks as if the two wrestlers are exhausted, both creatively and physically. The finishing sequence, in particular, looks awkward and contrived. The anti-climax is the consequence of such intensity, but it is deflating nonetheless. But the previous ten or fifteen minutes are a crazy brawl that looks and feels ‘real,’ and could hang with any modern wrestling brawl!
VERDICT: 8/10. Apart from the anti-climatic ending, Piper and Valentine put on a grudge match for the ages. A bloody, ultraviolent brawl that stands up well today!
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(Click here for my review of #69 Ultimo Dragon vs Rey Mysterio (World War 3 1996)