Steve Anthony vs Roderick Strong, The Empire Strikes Back (NWA Mid South)
Strong (b. 1983, 5'10", 200#) challenges Anthony (b. 1977, 5'10", 189#) for the NWA junior heavyweight title in this main event from last spring. We get a good match featuring two seasoned veterans. The Tennessee fans hate Steve "Exclamation Point" Anthony, with heel manager JJ Dillon in tow, so Roderick Strong, a personal favorite of mine, wears the babyface pants here.
Both guys know their way around a dirty fight, but we have to wait for the cheap shots through five or six minutes of rough but fair-and-square give and take. Still, you can rest assured the low blows are coming. There's plenty to enjoy in the meantime. I never tire of the way Strong primps in the midst of even the toughest match, running his fingers over his hair, tugging at his waistband, totally GQ. It's a heel gesture, but it's not out of place here, where fans know what they're getting with both these guys.
Strong, as aggressive as I've ever seen him, soon takes control of the ring and his opponent. I love the way he meticulously works Anthony over like he's building a cabinet out of him. The crowd laps it up, so great is their hatred of Anthony. Strong is so dominant that it looks inevitable that he will be the next champion any second now, but Anthony catches a break and spectacularly evens the odds at the 8:20 mark.
I go nuts over matches like this one, two expert ring tacticians, rugged and well matched in a high-stakes battle. As they wear each other down, the body grinding intensifies, and I am in heaven. This 19-minute video should be played in a constant loop.