The Match #13: Terry Funk’s Return Match In BTW ‘17
Terry Funk is 73-years old. He has retired countless times throughout his career and recently he had been hospitalized due to health concerns. Longtime friend and a man who considers Funk to be a father figure, Tommy Dreamer, at one point shared his concerns for Funk and his health. Some fans were worried the worse when it came to The Funkster and his health.
Apparently, Big Time Wrestling thought Terry Funk was healthy enough to promote his return to independent wrestling this past September in the Carolinas. Funk teamed with the Rock N’ Roll Express to take on Jerry Lawler, Brian Christopher and Doug Gilbert in a heavily promoted match and a match people anticipated it would be wild and crazy contest.
When I first heard of the match I let out a chuckle. This couldn’t possibly lead to a good result. Terry Funk has had some serious health issues in recent months. Would there even be an audience for this kind of match? Since the match has happened, I haven’t heard anything about it. So, I figured I’d take the time to seek out the footage and provide a review of the action. Here’s hoping for something that I won’t regret afterwards. As you might imagine, there are no disqualifications for the six man tag team match.
It is Rock Funk ’n’ Roll (Terry Funk, Ricky Morton, & Robert Gibson) vs. Lawler’s Memphis Mafia (Jerry Lawler, Doug Gilbert & Brian Christopher) in a no disqualification match.
Judging by what I can see for attendance, it doesn’t look like they did a very good job in filling the venue with fans. There’s probably a few hundred people there, but a lot of empty seats on the floor level opposite of the hard cam. Doug Gilbert doesn’t get much of a reaction and Brian Christopher gets booed doing his Too Cool gimmick. Jerry Lawler is greeted with cheers so this is basically fans choosing who they like and dislike.
It took nine and half minutes to get through the entrances and then ring introduction for the guys in the match. Nearly eleven minutes into the final segment and the bell finally sounds. Here we go…
Terry Funk and Brian Christopher kick off the six man tag match with Christopher deciding to dance a little bit and gets jabbed for doing so. Gilbert enters and they get jabbed by Funk with weak shots. Funk headbutts both men and stands tall in the ring. Gilbert comes over again and is met with a headbutt and left hand. For a match not having rules, they are following tag team rules by standing on the apron and that kind of thing drives me nuts. Jerry Lawler enters the ring to try his luck against Funk. Now the match has broken down and everyone is brawling with Lawler and Funk being the only two in the ring brawling. Gibson and Christopher are on the floor as is Gilbert and Morton. Lawler dropkicks Funk causing Funk to roll to the floor. Lawler has a camera cord and chokes Funk on the floor. Christopher rolls Gibson into the ring to continue the match. Funk is whipping Lawler with the camera cord on the floor. Lawler has a baseball bat but Funk just tosses a chair at him because he’s crazy.
Gilbert jabs Funk with the baseball bat in the throat and Lawler rams Funk into the apron. Gilbert hits Morton with a baseball bat while Funk is using a steel chair on Lawler outside the ring. Gilbert gets a near fall in the ring on Morton for the first pin fall attempt. Funk and Lawler are brawling into the crowd. Lawler and Funk are brawling by the merchandise tables. Lawler squirts water on Funk while other brawling is taking place but the main focus is on the interaction between Funk and Lawler. Lawler has a baseball bat and whacks a chair into Funk’s head, but Funk had the chair so far away from his face that it was comically ineffective. Lawler returns to the ring and ends up hitting a piledriver on Morton.
Gibson makes the save on the cover attempt but the Express are beaten down with a baseball bat thanks to Gilbert. Lawler clearly calls a spot in the corner due to poor camera work. Christopher accidentally hits Gilbert with the baseball bat and Funk crawls on top to win the match. As soon as the bell sounds, they all just stand in the ring awkwardly. Well, now Gilbert and Christopher are shoving each other and Gilbert hits a piledriver on Christopher. Lawler hits a piledriver on Gilbert. Lawler ends up raising hands with Funk and Rock N’ Roll Express.
I’m a fan of Terry Funk. I enjoyed his run in WCW with Flair, his return to WCW in ’94, his run in ECW, his brief run with Cactus in ’98 for the WWF, his comedic hardcore run in WCW and some enjoyable runs on the independents in early 2000s including his matches with Steve Corino. Let me just get that out of the way.
Big Time Wrestling should have never booked this match. I felt bad watching this match. Terry Funk always wants to please the fans and seemingly doesn’t want to be forgotten by the fans. There’s probably no way to assure him that his legacy will never be forgotten, I realize that. Everyone in this match, aside from Funk, showed that on some level they can provide something to a wrestling match in a short sprint or a match with heavy brawling. Funk looked like he was 73-years old and shouldn’t be wrestling in a wrestling ring. Terry Funk shouldn’t be ashamed. No, but rather Big Time Wrestling should.
I won’t give this a star rating because this was not presented in a manner to be a good match. It was presented to make, or try at least, money on Terry Funk’s legacy and they didn’t care about his wellbeing. All they cared about was money.
Terry Funk, please don’t return to the ring. You don’t need to compete to get our cheers and appreciation. You’ve earned that for a lifetime a long, long time ago. Come to shows, sign autographs and rest.
You’ve earned it.
Thanks for reading.