Let the nostalgia begin with the start of this new series covering classic NWA and WCW pay-per-views! We will be opening things up where it all really began, the first ever “supercard” produced by the National Wrestling Alliance and Jim Crockett Promotions. This event was actually before the advent of what we know today as “pay-per-view” and the broadcast was mostly only available in southern states through closed circuit television. For those wanting to see it live, you’d buy tickets to show up at local arenas and watch on a big screen. Quite a far cry from today where everything we get is streamed directly into our homes and honestly, crazy to think you’d ever have to do that with all of our current luxuries.
There’s nothing showy, we get no pomp and circumstance to begin the show and head directly into the ring where the combatants for our first match-up are ready to go…
Match #1: The Assassins (#1 & #2) w/Paul Jones vs. Bugsy McGraw & NWA Mid-Atlantic Champion Rufus R. Jones
Bugsy and Assassin #1 start things off. They lock up, #1 with a side headlock, irish whip into the ropes and shoulder knockdown on Bugsy. Back to the ropes, Bugsy with a hip-toss. He misses an elbow, but #1 misses one of his own and Bugsy hits a body slam. He goes for the mask, but #1 rolls out of the ring and takes a breather. The ref only gets to 3 before #1 is back in the ring. Another lockup, as #1 takes the advantage with a knee. Irish whips Bugsy into the ropes, Bugsy ducks a backhand and hits a jumping elbow knocking The Assassin down. He goes for the mask again, both men back up and we get a slugfest with Bugsy getting the better end of it. #1 is down and he makes the tag to #2. They lockup and go into the same spot that started the match except Bugsy ends it with another body slam followed by a hip toss.
Tag into Rufus R. Jones and he’s a house of fire, connecting with rights, chops and an elbow while shucking and jiving. Irish whips #2 and connects with a big gut punch that gets a 2 count. Rufus picks #2 back up, hits a hip toss and follows with a wrist lock. #2 tries to break free with a right hand to no avail. Rufus keeping the pressure on tags Bugsy back in who maintains the wrist lock. #2 gets in some rights before backing Bugsy into his corner and tagging in #1. Bugsy fights off a double team with rights and an elbow. They lock up and #1 grasps Bugsy in a wrist lock. Bugsy counters with one of his own and tags Rufus back in who keeps the wrist lock going. He keeps working the arm with headbutts. Rufus breaks it and a knockdown on #1. Backs #1 into the corner and a big irish whip to the opposite corner takes #1 down. #1 able to gain an advantage with some eye rakes.
He tags in #2 who continues to go after the eyes. Right hands on Rufus, but he shakes them off and mounts a comeback with rights and headbutts. Rufus crawls to his corner and makes the tag to Bugsy who goes to work on both Assassins with rights and elbows. Big right on #2 knocks him down and now #1 and Rufus jump into the ring and we get a brawl. Bugsy with an atomic drop on #2 as Rufus shoulders #1 back out to the apron. Bugsy with an irish whip followed by a back body drop on #2. #1 comes into the ring from behind with a schoolboy roll-up on Bugsy and gets a 3 count for the win.
Winners: The Assassins (Assassin #1/Schoolboy)
- EA’s Take: I’m going off the assumption that anyone reading this is not overly familiar, if at all, with either of these duos. Not unless you watched late-1980’s/early-1990’s WCW when one of The Assassins was a manager. In a time before the big, bold characters that the WWF would present, Bugsy plays some of that role and serves as the entertainment for this contest. There was some decent action throughout with McGraw really pushing the pace early. Rufus wears one of the most forgotten about titles in history and comes off as a poor-man’s version of Junkyard Dog if this is your first time seeing him. A lot of striking fills out Rufus’ move-set (which there will almost certainly be a lot of throughout the show) and the inevitable, but confusing, switch from The Assassins gets them a win. Which literally happened right in front of the official.
Match #2: Johnny Weaver & Scott McGhee vs. Kevin Sullivan & Mark Lewen w/Gary Hart
Sullivan and McGhee start us off. Sullivan with a waist lock takedown. They quickly go into the ropes, Sullivan goes for a back body drop, but McGhee hops over and hits consecutive dropkicks. Sullivan tags in Lewen. They lock up and Lewen backs McGhee in the corner, but he ducks an elbow and escapes. Lewen tags Sullivan back in. They lock up, McGhee with a side headlock as he tags in Weaver. Weaver continues with a side headlock. Sullivan irish whips Weaver to the ropes and they go into a criss-cross. Weaver feigns a big right, but Sullivan hangs onto the ropes to avoid it. Tag back into Lewen. Lewen and Weaver lock knuckles with Lewen applying a wrist lock only to be countered by Weaver into one of his own. He works Lewen’s arm with a couple elbows and tags in McGhee.
Double axe handle to Lewen’s arm and McGhee continues the wrist lock. Lewen with a brief counter into one of his own, but McGhee escapes. They lock up and Lewen with a top headlock tags in Sullivan. Sullivan with a snapmare into a wrist lock and he works over McGhee’s arm. He tags Lewen back in who connects with a chop to McGhee’s arm and goes back into a wrist lock. Another quick tag to Sullivan who comes in with a running knee to McGhee and goes back to a wrist lock. Another tag to Lewen and he applies a version of a bow and arrow. McGhee makes a tag, but Sullivan had the ref distracted and he sends Weaver back out. Sullivan and Lewen with a double team behind the ref’s back with Sullivan nailing a nice looking jumping knee. Sullivan comes in without making a tag and goes back to a wrist lock. They’re really working that arm of Scott McGhee.
Tag back to Lewen who hooks a front face lock. Yet another tag to Sullivan. McGhee tries to mount a comeback, but is stopped by a headbutt from Sullivan. Tag to Lewen who rakes the back of McGhee and then applies a nerve hold. McGhee crawls to his corner to tag, but Lewen stops him by grabbing the hair and pulling him back to his own corner. Another tag to Sullivan. Sullivan goes to ram McGhee’s head into the turnbuckle, but he blocks it and rams Sullivan. He makes the hot tag to Johnny Weaver who knocks around Sullivan and Lewen with right hands. Into the corner and Weaver hits a running bulldog on Sullivan for a 2 count. Lewen breaks it up.
Weaver goes for another running bulldog, but Sullivan counters and pushes him off. Lewen in with a couple kicks on Weaver before heading back to the apron where Sullivan tags out, making Lewen the legal man. Lewen with a few kicks and he tags Sullivan back in. Wrist lock on Weaver and another tag to Lewen who maintains the wrist lock. Tag to Sullivan, still maintaining the hold and we get a brief double team wrist lock on Weaver. McGhee comes in to stop the double team, but distracts the ref which allows it to continue. Lewen with a top rope knee drop on Weaver while Sullivan holds the arm. Lewen goes for the cover and gets 3 for the victory.
Winners: Mark Lewen & Kevin Sullivan (Lewen/Top Rope Knee Drop)
- After The Bell: Scott McGhee comes in and attacks the heels, hitting a dropkick on Gary Hart in the process. Hart pulls something out of his boot and Sullivan and Lewen go to town on McGhee’s head, busting him open. Angelo Mosca comes in to help, but he gets lacerated with the object as well. McGhee is bleeding profusely as Lewen and Sullivan continue the beating until Mosca gets back to his feet and clears the ring.
- EA’s Take: Clearly, Kevin Sullivan is the most remembered name in this contest and was very well known at this time for his dark persona, mostly in Florida. One thing you will continue to see a lot of in comparison to what the WWF would be doing is the pacing. I mentioned it in my take for the first match and we saw some more of the same early before it would slow down. Beginning with two straight tag matches is a bit of a puzzler, but you’ll also notice the classic tag team tactics which seem to be lost at times on today’s talents. You know, the kind of stuff that The Revival is always badgering on about!
Match #3: Carlos Colon vs. Abdullah The Butcher
Collar and elbow tie up with Abdullah getting Carlos into the corner. Abdullah appears to have pulled a foreign object from his tights already and he lays Carlos out with it. Abdullah with rights and headbutts followed by a choke in the corner. More rights and headbutts with Carlos unable to get anything going. Irish whip to the ropes and Abdullah hits a clothesline and follows with an elbow drop for a count of 2. Abdullah with a throat shot and he rakes at Carlos’ face. Carlos finally able to mount some offense with a series of rights, backing Abdullah into the corner. Carlos grabs the foreign object from Abdullah and gives him a taste of his own medicine.
Carlos works Abdullah over with it, busting him open. More rights to the cut and he even bites Abdullah on the forehead. Carlos is really beating Abdullah with that object, making Abdullah the proverbial crimson mask. Irish whip to the ropes and Carlos knocks Abdullah down with a big right to the gut. Jumping leg drop and elbow drop to Abdullah for a 2 count. As Abdullah kicks out he throws Carlos onto the referee. With Carlos still on top of the ref, Abdullah goes for an elbow drop, but Carlos moves and Abdullah nails the referee. Referee is laid out as Carlos hits a succession of right hands followed up with a drop kick, taking Abdullah down. Carlos now working on Abdullah’s knee and he applies a figure four. Somebody just entered the ring and smashed Carlos. It was Hugo Savinovich. Abdullah crawls over for the cover and gets the 3.
Winner: Abdullah The Butcher (Interference)
- EA’s Take: From the “shining star” of the Caribbean comes the WWE Hall Of Famer Carlos Colon, father to Primo and Carlito, uncle of Epico. This is a classic rivalry in Puerto Rico where Carlos is essentially the embodiment of pro wrestling. It makes sense that the NWA would want this a part of their “supercard”. The kind of violence it presented, albeit a little tame compared to their work on the island, is not common place (Yes, I realize we’ve already seen this is now multiple blade-jobs. Different matter altogether). Do yourself a favor and peep some highlights of any Butcher/Carlos matches from Puerto Rick if you can find them. You’ll see the difference.
Match #4: Chief Wahoo McDaniel & Mark Youngblood vs. Dick Slater & Bob Orton Jr.
Wahoo and Slater begin the match. Collar and elbow tie up the corner with Slater getting a small advantage. Wahoo whips him into the corner and Slater hops up over the corner to the apron. Back in the ring another collar and elbow tie up. Slater with a wrist lock, but Wahoo counters into one of his own and drags Slater to his corner to tag in Youngblood. Youngblood with a leg drop to Slater’s arm and he applies a wrist lock. Slater counters with an irish whip, but Youngblood then counters and hits a body slam. Back up, Slater with a double leg takedown rolls over into a cover for a 2 count. Both men up and we get a standoff. Collar and elbow tie up into a hammer lock by Slater, countered into one by Youngblood. Slater picks the leg, but Youngblood kicks him off and over the top rope to the apron. Slater wants a DQ for going over the top, but the ref won’t give it to him. Youngblood and Slater lock knuckles as Slater gets the advantage and executes a Russian leg sweep on Youngblood.
Front facelock as he backs into his corner and tags Orton in. Orton off the ropes with a big knee to Youngblood. Orton grabs Youngblood in a military press and drops him down into a backbreaker, tossing Youngblood away like a rag doll. Wahoo begins to come in, but is quickly stopped by the ref. Orton with a snapmare and he hits the ropes looking for an elbow drop, but Youngblood moves. Orton slides to the outside and Youngblood gives chase. Orton off the ropes, but Youngblood with a hip toss. Orton with a quick strategy session with Slater in the corner. Collar and elbow tie up into a side head lock by Orton. Irish whip into the ropes and they go into a short criss-cross with Orton making a blind tag to Slater.
Orton with a backbreaker as Slater enters the ring and hits an elbow with Orton propping Youngblood up. Slater hits some big punches followed by a gutwrench suplex for a count of 2. Slater throws Youngblood to the outside where Orton takes advantage and works him over with boots. Wahoo tries to intervene, but again the ref stops him. Orton grabs Youngblood into a backbreaker over the steel barricade. Wahoo checks on Youngblood who gets into the ring with Slater laying in wait. Slater with a headbutt and a boot, then tags Orton in who applies a crossface type move. Youngblood is able to get out with shots to the gut and hits the ropes for a shoulder knockdown on Orton. Back to the ropes, but Orton counters with a big boot to the mush, knocking Youngblood back down. Orton with a side head lock tags in Slater. Youngblood with a short comeback, but is prevented from making the tag by Orton.
Slater sends Youngblood to the ropes and hits a big elbow. Slater follows it up with a vertical suplex for a 2 count. Slater attempts a piledriver, but Youngblood counters with a back body drop. Youngblood into the ropes and he runs into Slater, colliding heads. Both men are down, as Youngblood crawls towards his corner to try and tag. Orton comes in to stop it, but he’s too late and in comes Wahoo McDaniel. Big chops to Orton and Slater, followed by a noggin knocker. Irish whip to Orton in the corner followed by a big gut shot. Inverted atomic drop on Orton and Wahoo is really cooking now. Irish whips Orton and hits a body slam for a 2 count. Orton is able to get to his corner and tag in Slater who stops the onslaught by Wahoo. Slater and Wahoo exchange rights with Wahoo gaining the advantage until taking a shot to the gut by Orton on the outside.
Slater hits a belly to back suplex for 3 consecutive 2 counts. Tag back to Orton for a double team back elbow. Orton driving the point of his elbow and knee onto a prone Wahoo for a 2 count. Tag to Slater who goes to the top while Orton holds Wahoo. Wahoo moves and Slater nails Orton. Wahoo with an atomic drop on Slater, sending him flying into the wrong corner where Youngblood is waiting with right hands. Tag to Youngblood and he and Wahoo hit a double team chop on Slater. Orton comes in with a knee to Wahoo’s back sending him to the outside as Youngblood works on Slater.
Slater gets a tag to Orton who slows Youngblood down, but not for long as he hits multiple dropkicks to Slater and Orton. Slater and Wahoo brawl on the outside as Youngblood irish whips Orton into the ropes. Youngblood goes for another dropkick, but Slater grabs Orton from the outside which prevents Youngblood from connecting. Slater jumps in and he and Orton double team Youngblood, propping him onto the turnbuckle. Orton goes up with Youngblood and hits a superplex, followed by a cover and a 3 count giving his team the win.
Winners: Bob Orton Jr. & Dick Slater (Orton Jr./Superplex)
- After The Bell: Wahoo is in going to work on Slater and Orton. Slater gains the advantage on Wahoo and they double team him. Slater holds Wahoo’s arm under the bottom rope as Orton climbs the turnbuckle and hits a knee onto Wahoo’s arm on the outside.
- EA’s Take: That’s three tag matches out of the four to start the show, an interesting route to take to say the least. If you’re going to have a “supercard” however, I guess you want to get as many guys on the show as possible. Seems to me like they should be a little more spread out though. Also, the heels have now one four straight…possible foreshadowing? Regardless, I’d find it hard pressed for anybody to not take notice of Slater, but more particularly Orton. Dick Slater is certainly a forgotten star and a guy who could really do it all. Orton on the other hand, even being a WWE Hall Of Famer, is still vastly underrated in my eyes (Do I smell a future Underrated Files? Perhaps). Of course he would be most known for playing Roddy Piper’s sidekick in years to come, but he is about as smooth in the ring as they get. Just watch everything Orton Jr. does here and you will clearly see that his son, Randy, did not get his gifts from the man upstairs, but from his family.
Match #5 is a Title vs. Mask Match for the NWA Television Championship: ‘Downtown’ Charlie Brown vs. NWA Television Champion The Great Kabuki w/Gary Hart
Charlie Brown is actually Jimmy Valiant for those that are not aware. Charlie kicks it off with big rights sending Kabuki to the outside. He slams Kabuki into multiple ring posts and then goes to work on Kabuki with a chair. Rolling Kabuki back in, Charlie wraps Kabuki’s legs around the post and crotches him on it. He drags Kabuki by the legs to the center of the ring and connects with a low blow behind the refs back. Irish whip into the ropes and Charlie locks on a sleeper on Kabuki. Charlie has it locked on good as Kabuki appears to be going out before escaping with a rake of the eyes. Charlie ducks a chop by Kabuki and goes right back into the sleeper, dropping Kabuki down to the mat again.
Gary Hart reaches into the ring and rakes Charlie’s eyes behind the refs back to help Kabuki escape the hold once again. Both men up and Kabuki nails a couple martial arts kicks before sending Charlie into the ropes and applying a claw hold. Charlie gets out of it as both men go into opposite ropes with Charlie hitting multiple back body drops before Kabuki ends the run with a martial arts kick. Kabuki to the second rope and he comes down on Charlie with another claw hold to the head. Kabuki really has it locked in. Charlie finally fights back to his feet before hitting right hands and a boot. Irish whips Kabuki into the corner and follows him in, but Kabuki hits a boot to stop the threat. Kabuki up to the top rope comes down on Charlie with yet another claw hold. The ref checks Charlie’s arm and it hits the mat twice. Ref gets a count of 2 before Charlie kicks out.
Kabuki lets go of the claw, climbs the top rope and comes down with a chop to the head for another 2 count. Kabuki is going for Charlie’s mask, but the referee stops him. Both men up, but Kabuki with a knockdown off another martial arts kick. Kabuki with rights, but Charlie starts to come back as he hits the ropes and gets a knockdown off a right hand. Charlie irish whips Kabuki into the corner, but Kabuki reverses sending Charlie in. Kabuki tries to follow with a kick, but Charlie moves and Kabuki hits the mat. Charlie off the ropes with an elbow drop on Kabuki and he picks up the pinfall and the W.
Winner: New NWA Television Champion ‘Downtown’ Charlie Brown (Elbow Drop)
- EA’s Take: Very unique stipulation to this match with the TV Title being on the line against the mask, but only for the first fifteen minutes if I understood the ring announcer correctly. I suppose that doesn’t matter since we finish up around the ten-minute mark. So here’s the spoiler alert of the century; Charlie Brown is Jimmy Valiant, who had previously come up short in a Loser Leaves Town match against Kabuki. Thus, we get Valiant in a mask and everyone who has working eyes is aware it’s him. This gives the match a little bit of entertainment value because of the over-the-top charisma from Charlie Brown. The in-ring work’s not great and the finish is a bit confusing since you don’t really know if there was a title change with no time updates from the announcer.
Match #6 is a Non-Title Dog Collar Match: ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper vs. NWA United States Champion Greg Valentine
Both men have a leather collar around their necks with a steel chain attaching to one another. They start off with a tug of war of sorts using just their necks before starting to pull in on the chain. Piper with a quick shot on Valentine with the chain and they back off to opposite corners again. Both men coming in close again and Valentine misses multiple shots on Piper with the chain before they both back off once again. Standoff in the center of the ring and they exchange rights before backing off again. Both men creep in before Piper hits a chain shot pushing Valentine into the corner. Multiple rights and chain shots on Valentine. Valentine gets tangled with the chain going between his legs, Piper picks up the slack real quick delivering a low blow on Valentine. Another chain shot to Valentine and he falls to the mat. Back up and Valentine takes control with rights, elbows and chain shots. Snapmare on Piper with the chain and Valentine wraps the chain around Piper’s face, dragging it across his eyes.
Valentine with a couple shots in the corner, but Piper counters with the chain and a knee lift. Snapmare on Valentine and now Piper wraps the chain around Valentine’s mouth. Piper over to the corner and he wraps the chain around the post, using it like a winch choking Valentine in the corner. Piper is vicious right now with right hands and even biting Valentine in the corner. Valentine’s been busted open, but he comes out of the corner with a vengeance, choking Piper with the chain. Both men to the outside and they start to whip each other with the chain. Piper up on the apron and he takes the tension up on the chain, hanging Valentine by the neck. Valentine is able to counter with a chain shot that catches Piper in the ear, but also knocks down the referee.
Still out on the apron and Valentine is going to work on Piper’s ear using right hands, the chain and even the steel ring post. Piper’s bleeding bad from his ear. Valentine rolls back into the ring as Piper has trouble standing on the outside. Valentine pulls Piper back in the ring and continues working on the bloodied ear of Piper with the chain. Piper finally gets back to his feet only to be pummeled by Valentine on the ear in the corner. Valentine sets Piper up for a suplex, but Piper counters with the chain wrapped around his hand. It’s a short comeback as Valentine goes back to the ear, laying Piper out again. Valentine with an elbow drop gets a count of 2. Another elbow and another 2 count. Valentine goes for a third elbow, but Piper tightens up on the chain and drops Valentine.
Piper back to his feet charges Valentine and tackles him to the mat, following it up with a flurry of right hands and boots. Piper sees the blood coming from his ear and begins to go berserk on Valentine with the chain. Valentine goes back to the ear, but Piper comes back with more rights to stop Valentine in his tracks. Valentine back up wraps the chain around Piper’s neck. Irish whip and Valentine knocks Piper down with a clothesline. Big knee drop by Valentine for back to back 2 counts. Valentine goes for a suplex, but Piper counters into one of his own and they double down. The ref gets to 8 before both men are up and we get a slugfest. Valentine whips Piper into the corner and follows it up with a sleeper hold. Piper wraps the chain around his fist while in the sleeper and connects on Valentine to break the hold. Valentine up to the second rope comes down with an elbow. Valentine up to the second rope again, but this time Piper pulls him off using the chain, lasso’s Valentine’s legs up and covers for a count of 3.
Winner: ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper (Chain-Assisted Pinfall)
- EA’s Take: Aside from the main event, this is by far the most remembered match from the inaugural Starrcade and if you were to introduce someone new to wrestling with a list of matches to check out, this should be on there. A little unusual that the title’s not on the line, but it was about more than that. The issues between Piper and Valentine were personal and this brutal dog collar match fully encompassed that. In case you don’t know the story, Valentine legit busted Roddy’s ear drum and lose at least 50% of his hearing. Valentine was quoted in the WWE Roddy Piper documentary as saying, “Roddy Piper is a tough guy. He may not look it, but that is a tough guy”. Piper would also add, “To do another one of those man…whew, that’s tough”. For the younger readers out there who may wonder why Greg Valentine is a Hall Of Famer, I present to you Exhibit A. Also, this is a perfect example of how to have a hardcore-like match and still tell a great story.
Match #7 for the NWA World Tag Team Championships w/Special Referee Angelo Mosca: Jay Youngblood & Ricky Steamboat vs. NWA World Tag Team Champions The Briscos (Jack & Jerry)
Steamboat and Jack kick it off with a collar and elbow tie up, with Steamboat backing Jack in a corner and getting a clean break. Another collar and elbow with Jack putting Steamboat into a side head lock. Irish whip into the ropes and Steamboat with a couple of hops over Jack before going for a chop, but Jack saw it coming and hangs onto the ropes. Another lockup and Jack with a wrist lock, tags in Jerry who keeps the wrist lock on before a drop toe hold by Steamboat. Jerry quickly tags Jack back in who gets control with a hammer lock. Steamboat gets out by flipping backwards over Jack and hits an arm drag. Jack back tags Jerry in. Another lockup and Jerry gets the advantage, backing Steamboat in the corner and hitting right hands. Mosca in between to break it up, but Jerry back in with a front face lock on Steamboat. Mosca gets in the middle of it again to break it up.
They lockup in the center with Jerry whipping Steamboat in the corner. Steamboat counters and hits a couple chops before a side head lock on Jerry and a tag to Youngblood. Youngblood with a side head lock takedown on Jerry and then they get backed into the corner before Mosca breaks them up. They lock knuckles and Youngblood gets a hammer lock on Jerry. Jerry goes for a body slam, but Youngblood hangs onto the arm and gets a 2 count before dragging Jerry over to tag in Steamboat. Youngblood has the arm as Steamboat climbs to the top and hits a big chop. Another quick tag back to Youngblood who hits a chop off the top of his own for another count of 2. Into the opposite corner, Youngblood knocks down Jack on the apron before ramming Jerry into the turnbuckle and tagging Steamboat.
Steamboat charges Jerry, but he counters with boots before tagging Jack. Jerry holds Steamboat for Jack to hit some right hands. Jack has Steamboat over his shoulder and throats him across the top rope. Rear chin lock by Jack on Steamboat. Steamboat fights back to his feet, before getting out of it with a couple elbows. Shoulder knockdown on Jack, Steamboat into the ropes again as Jack leapfrogs him and then hits a back body drop. Jack tags Jerry who comes in and hits a double underhook suplex. He follows it up with a waist lock into a bridge for consecutive 2 counts on Steamboat. Steamboat back up again, but Jerry with a hip toss into a key lock. Steamboat gets up to his feet and he uses brute strength to lift Jerry off the mat into a slam to escape the hold. Jerry tags Jack and tries to prevent Steamboat from tagging, but he gets there anyway and in comes Youngblood.
Youngblood really working over Jack, goes for a suplex but Jack counters and hits one of his own. Tag to Jerry and we get a double team, irish whipping Youngblood into the ropes for a double shoulder tackle. Jerry comes in and gets a 2 count, but Youngblood’s foot was on the ropes. Jerry with a vertical suplex for another 2 count. A couple left hands by Jerry, then into an abdominal stretch pinning combination for a count of 2. Jerry is upset with the referee, Angelo Mosca, so he gives him a shove. Mosca doesn’t appreciate it and shoves Jerry back, knocking him to the mat. This gives Youngblood a chance to recover and make the tag to Steamboat.
Steamboat to the top with a chop to Jerry. Jack comes in, but he catches a right hand for his troubles and Steamboat goes back to work on Jerry. Irish whip into the ropes and Steamboat nails Jerry with a double chop. Tag to Youngblood and they double up on Jerry, sending him into the ropes for tandem chops. Tag back to Steamboat, they send Jerry into the ropes. Steamboat picks Youngblood up for a dropkick on Jerry, before Youngblood goes back on the apron. Chop to Jerry and another tag to Youngblood. Steamboat with a body slam to Jerry, Youngblood hits the ropes and Steamboat picks him up into a military press over Jerry’s prone body. Steamboat drops his partner into a splash onto Jerry and Youngblood gets a count of 3 and we have new champs.
Winners and NEW NWA World Tag Team Champions: Jay Youngblood & Ricky Steamboat (Youngblood/Combo Press-Splash)
- After The Bell: Jack comes in and attacks everyone except for his brother Jerry, including referee Angelo Mosca. The Brisco’s double team Mosca, sending him into the steel post. Jerry locks a figure four onto Steamboat while Jack hits a big splash. Jack now up to the top goes for another big splash, but Mosca is back up and catches Jack in the air. Youngblood is back in the ring, now he and Steamboat go to town on The Briscos and clear the ring.
- EA’s Take: The recipe for wrestling goodness; you take some Ricky Steamboat, add a pinch of the lesser known ingredient called Jay Youngblood, then top it off with a helping of The Briscos. Three out of four Hall Of Famers comprise the combatants and if it weren’t for his unexpected, premature death, Youngblood had a shot at being one too. Steamboat’s accolades speak for themselves, but not many are familiar with how good of a tandem he formed with Youngblood. They meshed perfectly with the veteran Briscos, both of whom were winding down their in-ring runs. Jack and Jerry aren’t completely done after a post-match ambush, but two former NWA World Champions just put over two younger stars. That’s how it should be!
Match #8 is a Steel Cage Match for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship w/Special Referee Gene Kiniski: ‘Nature Boy’ Ric Flair vs. NWA World Heavyweight Champion Harley Race
We’re finally set for the main event of the evening. Collar and elbow tie up and Flair takes the advantage with a side headlock takedown. Race escapes and we get a brief standoff. They lockup with Flair taking control with another side headlock. Race backs him into the ropes and Kiniski forces a clean break. Another lockup and Flair hits a knee followed by a snapmare into a rear chin lock. Race turns into it, making it a side headlock. He whips Flair into the ropes and hits a jumping knee, knocking Flair down. Race goes for his patented falling headbutt, but Flair moves, hits a chop and gets a cover for a 1 count. Flair in control again with a side headlock takedown as he grounds Race. Race rolls Flair over into a pinning predicament, but only gets a 1 count before Flair rolls back over putting the pressure back onto Race.
Flair floats over and gets a 2 count, before turning it into a front face lock. Race counters and hits a vertical suplex for a count of 2. Race with an attempt at an elbow drop, but Flair moves. Flair goes for a body slam, but Race shifts his weight into a pin and gets another 2 count. Race starts working over Flair with knees and a choke until Kiniski grabs Race and pulls him away. Race rams Flair into the turnbuckle and hits some clubbing blows before going back to the choke. Kiniski again gets involved, shoving Race off of Flair. Race sets up Flair for a piledriver and he hits it. Elbow drop on Flair followed by a cover and a 2 count. Race with a swinging neck breaker only gets a 2 count again. More knees to the head of Flair, then Race lets Flair up only to ram him face first into the cage. Race picks Flair up and hits a slam for another 2 count.
Flair starts to fire back with gut shots, but Race stops him with a head butt, followed by a falling headbutt to a laid out Flair. Flair gets smashed into the cage multiple times and now he’s been bloodied. Race is choking Flair in the corner, but Kiniski pulls Race out of the corner once again which allows Flair to get a couple shots in. To the other corner and now Kiniski pulls Flair out, which lets Race get a shot in and take the advantage. Race with a whip into the corner, but Flair reverses sending Race into the cage. Now Race is busted open and Flair starts his assault with shots to the cage. Snapmare on Race, followed by Flair’s knee drop.
Flair with a piledriver of his own, but he only gets a count of 2. Flair with a neck twist, then a double underhook suplex for a 2 count. Race goes face first into the cage a couple of times and Kiniski is getting involved yet again, which gives Race time to gain control. He drags Flair’s face across the cage like a cheese grater before Kiniski drags Race off. Flair is sent into the cage yet again, but this time he gets a rush of adrenaline and fights Race off. Flair gets a 2 count before going to town with right hands on Race and giving us a “Woo!” followed by a strut. Flair gets Race in the center of the ring and locks in his patented figure four leg lock. Race is able to turn it over, switching the pressure onto Flair, before Flair rolls it back and they’re in the ropes. Kiniski breaks the hold and both men are back up now. Race goes for a vertical suplex, but Flair switches the momentum landing on top of Race for a 2 count.
Race stalls Flair with a headbutt, then heads to the second rope and connects with his trademark diving headbutt for a count of 2. Vertical suplex on Flair, but he only gets 2 again. Race is getting frustrated as he begins to pummel Flair with left hands to the forehead. Flair attempts a comeback, but being rammed into the cage stops him in his tracks. Race with a choke on Flair and Kiniski grabs Race by the hair to break it. Race goes for another vertical suplex, but Flair blocks and connects with his own. Race gets a side head lock on Flair, but Flair pushes him off and Race rams heads with Kiniski. Kiniski goes down, as Flair and Race battle in the corner. Flair with rights and chops gets Race to back off. Flair to the top rope hits a cross body, as Race falls backwards over the referee. Kiniski rolls over and counts 3 as we have a new World Champion.
Winner and NEW NWA World Heavyweight Champion: ‘Nature Boy’ Ric Flair (Top Rope Crossbody)
- After The Bell: All the babyfaces jump in the ring and we get a big celebration for Ric Flair in his home state. Flair cuts an emotional promo about how much the night meant to him and the show comes to a close.
- EA’s Take: That is all the pageantry we’re going to get with those entrances and if you couldn’t tell by him getting fireworks AND music over the defending champion, Flair has the proverbial “rocket pack” strapped to his back. The stories of Harley and his toughness are that of legend, but the future King Of The WWF’s best days are quickly coming to an end and he knew it. It’s not Flair’s first go-around with the strap, but he’s even admitted that he wasn’t ready and with a stamp of approval from Race this time around, he was a made man. This was the finale of a long build to get The Nature Boy there and it doesn’t take a physicist to figure out that it was certainly the right call anointing him the “flag bearer”. The match is a bit lethargic at times with bursts of speed, eventually breaking into a slugfest with the cage finally coming into play. If you want great Flair matches then this is good because of its significance in history and his career, but there is absolutely better work to come. Space Mountain is officially open for business.
EA’s Finisher: As with most firsts, there are always things to improve on. Too many backstage segments involving the same people, too many meaningless fan interviews asking who they thought would win. This was in North Carolina, of course they all wanted Flair to win! Most of the matches had little to no build-up as the whole show was almost completely built around the Flair/Race match. It WAS entitled ‘Starrcade ’83: A Flair For The Gold’ after all. Was there ever any doubt that Flair would not win? Aside from the main event and the tag team title match, Piper and Valentine quite possibly stole the show. That was a really vicious bout that a lot of people had never seen the likes of. This event that was the brainchild of Dusty Rhodes was the first of its kind and through tech issues like some audio and kinks to be worked out, without it there may have never been a WrestleMania (or at least a blueprint for it to follow). This was still a historic night, but admittedly some of it can be hard to get through. Don’t expect offensive innovation, just the dawn of an era and one of the greatest (if not THE greatest) performers the business has ever seen.
Top Three To Watch
1 – Roddy Piper vs. Greg Valentine
2 – Ric Flair vs. Harley Race
3 – Dick Slater & Bob Orton vs. Wahoo McDaniel & Mark Youngblood
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Chairshot Classics: NWA Bunkhouse Stampede 1988
Jim Crockett Promotions and the NWA make their first foray into more pay-per-view events with the inaugural and only Bunkhouse Stampede! There were four Bunkhouse events, but this is the lone one to be broadcast as JCP follows in the WWF’s footsteps of adding to their PPV schedule. The match itself is another Dusty Rhodes creation to headline the show, however the WWF would fire back yet again with JCP in their stomping grounds of Uniondale, New York. After running the inaugural Survivor Series up against Starrcade ’87, Vince McMahon would do it again here with the first Royal Rumble event broadcast. Not on PPV mind you, but on the USA Network in an attempt to stop people from buying JCP’s product. Let’s see how it plays out as our opening match gets ready to begin, but first…
Ringside: Bob Caudle & Jim Ross run down the card for the night which consists of three title matches, plus the finals of the Bunkhouse Stampede.
Match #1 for the NWA World Television Championship: NWA United States Tag Team Champion ‘Beautiful’ Bobby Eaton w/Jim Cornette vs. NWA World Television Champion Nikita Koloff
A big pop for Koloff at his ring announcement. The two lock up and quickly release. Eaton immediately checks in with Cornette. They lock up a few more times and Eaton works Koloff into the corner before another clean break. The next lock up features brief chain wrestling before Eaton breaks it up in the ropes. At the next lockup, Eaton works Koloff into the corner and delivers punches that wake Koloff up. Nikita responds with a shoulder tackle. They lock up again and Koloff wins a test of strength. Koloff applies an arm bar followed by repeated blows on the back. Koloff works Eaton to the mat with a wristlock submission.
Back to their feet, Eaton breaks the hold with an elbow to the nose and kicks Koloff who stumbles through the middle rope to the floor. Some brawling ensues on the floor before Eaton rolls Koloff back into the ring. Eaton attempts to knock Koloff into the turnbuckle but Nikita reverses. They slow it down and both men are squaring up back in the ring. Eaton with a take down off of a side headlock and he maintains a headlock on the mat. Cornette is constantly barking at the referee. Koloff slowly makes his way back to his feet with the headlock still on. He whips Eaton to the rope but is hit with a shoulder tackle. They run the ropes after this and Koloff is able to land a power slam. Eaton regroups with Cornette at the side of the ring.
The two lock up again and Eaton hits another side headlock take down. Koloff rolls from the lock and attempts a pin but only gets 2. Eaton maintains control with the headlock on the mat. Back to their feet, Eaton once again powers Koloff to the concrete floor. He follows Nikita and lands some punches before Koloff throws him off and into the ring post. Koloff follows up with a hip toss on the concrete floor. More brawling happens on the floor before Koloff is pushed back into the ring. Eaton delivers a snapmare takedown followed by a standing elbow drop. There is a pin attempt and a 2 count. Eaton applies a hammerlock submission on the mat. Cornette plugs his ears as the crowd cheers for Koloff to get up.
The crowd loudly cheers “Cornette Sucks!”, Koloff slowly works up to his knees and finally stands, delivering 2 elbows and a shoulder tackle before Eaton gets a knee up in defense. Eaton climbs to the top rope and lands a missile dropkick. Pin attempt for a 2 count. Eaton applies another hammerlock submission. The crowd is really giving it to Jim Cornette. After a hammerlock that feels like forever, Tony Schiavone announces there are 5 minutes left in the time limit over the loud speaker. Koloff is back to his knees but he is still trapped in the hammerlock. Koloff finally breaks the hold with a few elbows and hits Eaton with a half-hearted Russian Sickle that hangs him up in the ropes.
They get to their feet at approximately the same time and Eaton has another arm submission takedown. 3 minutes remain. Koloff refuses to submit, and Eaton puts his knee into his opponents back. 2 minutes remain. Koloff back to his feet, with elbows to the stomach but Eaton responds with some kicks of his own and a modified arm bar take down. More submission work on the mat. 1 minute remaining. Koloff strengths back to his feet. They exchange stiff punches. Eaton begs for mercy. Koloff drives Eaton to the corner and delivers 6 punches before an Irish whip to the other corner. Koloff lands a solid Russian Sickle, but there’s not enough time for a pin.
Winner: Time Limit Draw
- After The Bell: Cornette is in the ring, but he loses his tennis racket in a terrified jump. Eaton attacks Koloff from behind and ‘Sweet’ Stan Lane of the Midnight Express runs in to make it a double team. The partners kick Koloff out to the concrete.
- EA’s Take: These two solid NWA stars delivered quite a stinker here. If I ever re-watch the match, I’m getting a stop watch out and timimg how many of these twenty minutes were simply spent laying on the mat in a hammerlock submission. JR did his best to make sense of the “strategy”, but there was no logic or strategy here. If the crowd wasn’t so interested in heckling Jim Cornette, you probably could have heard some snores. After Cornette claimed Eaton & Lane were respectively going after singles titles, that leads to our match tonight. Eventually, Nikita will team with Dusty (the champion Lane went after) to evolve the feud, but I don’t get the finish here. To me, Nikita goes over here, lays claim to a title shot due to the victory, THEN pairs up with Dusty to switch the focus to the US Tag Titles. That’s how this should have gone down.
Match #2 for the UWF Western States Championship: Larry Zbysko w/Baby Doll vs. UWF Western States Champion Barry Windham
Zbysko argues with the ref while Baby Doll argues with Windham. The ref finally demands Baby Doll get out of the ring. The two lock up and have a clean break. Windham gets the better end of the next lockup, powering Zbysko to the mat. Windham applies a head lock, runs the ropes and delivers two shoulder tackles and a hiptoss. A frustrated Zbysko consults Baby Doll outside the ring. He takes his time getting back in. Zbykso hits a single leg take down and a short leg submission.
Back to their feet, Zbysko is complaining that Windham is illegally pulling his hair. Windham applies another headlock. The two run the ropes and Windham stops short causing Zbysko to miss a dropkick. They lock up and Windham reverses a hammerlock into a fireman’s carry take down. The two work their way to the turnbuckle and they exchange right hands. Zbysko attempts a martial arts kick but Windham catches his foot. Zbysko is back to the concrete again, very frustrated.
Baby Doll appears to be trying to distract Windham, but to no avail. Zbysko is back in and hits another single leg take down. Zbysko tries to work on the seemingly injured leg but Windham breaks the hold by yanking on Zbysko‘s face. The two run the ropes. Zbysko hits a shoulder tackle, followed shortly by a drop toe hold. Zbysko is applying what looks like a modified half-crab submission. He turns Windham over into a toehold submission. Windham works his way to one foot and breaks the hold with a kick to the head. They regroup, run the ropes and Windham delivers a power slam followed by a 2 count. Windham to the top rope but misses his jump. Zbysko goes right back to work on the vulnerable knee. Windham is back up and hopping on 1 leg but Zbysko maintains the hold until Barry finally lands a few punches. Zbysko delivers sloppy bodyslam and a lateral press for a 2 count.
Zbysko puts a head lock on, but Windham reverses it with a 1 armed belly to back suplex. Windham can’t build off the momentum as Zbysko hits another drop toe hold and goes back to that half-crab. One back to their feet, the two exchange hard rights until Windham lands 3 in a row and Zbysko goes down on his back. A whip into the ropes and Windham lands a dropkick. Windham with a vertical suplex and another 2 count. Windham with a side solto suplex and another 2 count. He whips Zbysko into the ropes and grabs him in a sleeper hold. Zybysko breaks the hold by stumbling to the ropes and he rolls out to Baby Doll. Windham has none of the attempted slow down and follows him out.
Some brief brawling before Zbysko rolls into the ring first. 15 minutes have expired. Zbysko walks toward the apron and Windham grabs his ankles dropping Larry on his back. Windham pulls him over for a low blow against the post. Windham re-enters the ring. Zbysko is whipped to the ropes but ducks down on the comeback. Windham attempts a massive lariat and his momentum takes him through the middle rope and back to the floor. He’s able to take control when Larry follows though, and Zbysko is smashed face first on a nearby table. As Windham slowly gets to the apron, he hits a shoulder to Zbysko’s stomach and attempts a sunset flip. This is countered by Zbysko’s right hand. Zbysko attempts a neckbreaker but Windham reverses it into a backslide for a 2 count.
Zbysko sets up for a piledriver but it is reversed into a back body drop. Back to their feet, Zybysko is whipped into the ropes. The two collide in the middle of the ring and they both drop to the mat. Slowly to their feet, Windham moves on an Irish whip to the turnbuckle. Windham steps up to the 2nd turnbuckle and the crowd counts the punches off. On the following Irish whip to the opposite turnbuckle, Zbysko collides with the referee. Windham has Zbysko rolled up into an apparent 3 count, but the ref is down. Windham celebrates but then realizes the situation. He checks on the ref and Zbysko appears to hit him from behind with a foreign object. Zbysko gets the pinfall win.
Winner and NEW UWF Western States Champion: Larry Zbysko (Foreign Object)
- EA’s Take: This is definitely better than our first match, but that wasn’t hard to accomplish. As I stated in my Starrcade ’87 review, Barry’s being setup for a push towards the top so losing the non-prestigious Western States Title is a good thing. Zbysko would take off from the NWA the following year still as the champion and it was subsequently retired, so that shows how “revered” it was. It wouldn’t be but a couple of months later that Windham will turn heel and join The Horsemen, possibly the most recognizable incarnation of the group in its history.
Match #3 for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship: Road Warrior Hawk w/Paul Ellering vs. NWA World Heavyweight Champion Ric Flair w/James J. Dillon
The two lock up and Hawk quickly powers Flair down. Flair takes his time contemplating his next move. Hawk with a side headlock. Flair works Hawk into the corner for a chop, but Hawk just stares him down. Flair walks out to the apron and paces, baffled by his opponent. The two lock up again, Flair delivers a knee and chop to the midsection. Flair attempts a shoulder tackle that doesn’t even move Hawk. He goes for a 2nd shoulder tackle and instead Hawk catches him in a gorilla press slam.
JJ Dillon tries to call timeout but the ref won’t have it. Yet another gorilla press from Hawk. Flair is backing up on the mat screaming “no”. Hawk delivers a barrage of kicks to Flair’s midsection. Flair with plenty of theatrics after this attack. Hawk pulls him up and lands a standing dropkick followed by a blow to the head. Hawk relentlessly pulls Flair up for a hiptoss. Flair rolls out of the ring and Dillon tries to give him some encouragement. Hawk meets him at the apron upon his return and vertically suplexes Flair back in. Flair is whipped into the rope and is caught in a bear hug. Hawk works Flair’s shoulders down to the mat for a two count. Flair is back to his feet and lands more useless chops. Flair is whipped into the ropes and Hawk lands a shoulder block.
Flair rolls out of the ring and around on the concrete while Ellering stares down Dillon. Hawk joins Flair on the floor who is able to rake the eyes. This only makes Hawk angry and he stalks Flair around the ring. Once back in the ring, Hawk muscles Flair to his knees and Ric finally gets some offense with a low blow. Flair with seemingly more effective kicks, chops and an eye rake after this disruption. The crowd is chanting for Hawk. Flair with a snapmare take down followed by a knee to the head. He covers Hawk for a 2 count. Flair pulls Hawk up and throws him through the middle rope and onto the floor. Flair follows him out and whips Hawk into the steel gate twice. Hawk stumbles back toward the ring as Flair taunts the crowd.
Flair climbs the turnbuckle and hits a double axe handle and another knee to the head. Lateral press from Flair for a 2 count. Flair whips Hawk to the rope who surprises Ric by reversing it into a neck breaker. Hawk to the turnbuckle but misses his attempt at a knee drop. His left knee is apparently injured so Flair takes advantage and works it over in a variety of ways. Outside, Ellering is stalking Dillon to make sure there is no funny business. Flair taunts Hawk yelling “Come on, tough guy” as he delivers more blows to the injured knee. Flair with some chops followed by a belly to back suplex. Flair pulls Hawk to the ring post and swings the injured knee into the metal. Back in the ring, Flair successfully applies the figure four leg lock and uses the ropes for leverage when he can. Hawk refuses to quit. Hawk starts an attempted reversal as Schiavone’s voice is heard saying 15 minutes has expired.
The crowd cheers loudly as Hawk completes the submission reversal. Flair is screaming in pain before breaking the hold at the ropes. Both men are slow to get up. Flair hits an elbow to the head and goes to the top rope. Hawk beats him to the punch and Flair takes his patented gorilla press bump from the top. Hawk with chops in the corner. Flair turns him around and sends him to the opposite side with an Irish whip. Hawk comes off the turnbuckle strong and lands a clothesline but he accidentally hits the ref as well. The two run the ropes. Hawk ducks a clothesline and comes back, sending Flair over the top rope with a clothesline of his own. Outside the ring, Hawk runs Flair face first into the post twice. Flair is bleeding.
They work their way back into the ring where Hawk delivers a power slam. Flair cowers into the corner and Hawk lands some rights, followed by an Irish whip and a clothesline. Somehow, Flair climbs to the top turnbuckle but Hawk meets him there. Hawk superplexes Flair, and there is plenty of time for a successful pinfall but there is no conscious ref. JJ Dillon enters the ring and hits Hawk with a chair. This barely phases Hawk who gets up and stalks Dillon down. Flair picks up the chair and delivers a headshot when Hawk turns around.
The ref rolls back in the ring shortly after this as Flair has a lateral press on Hawk but only gets a 2 count. Flair delivers a massive vertical suplex but is shocked to see Hawk is right back to his feet, completely unphased. Flair begs for mercy but Hawk climbs to the 2nd turnbuckle and the crowd counts off the 10 punches. Flair stumbles and falls in the middle of the ring. Flair retreats back to the turnbuckle but sneaks in a knee to the midsection and rushes to get the chair. He hits Hawk with the chair across the back and the ref calls for the bell.
Winner: Road Warrior Hawk (Disqualification)
- EA’s Take: Classic Flair here as Hawk looks like a million bucks. Lots of no-selling from one of of The Road Warriors and Naitch sells the crap out of the offense, so while I don’t care for screwy finishes, I don’t know how else you keep the belt on Flair while accomplishing the overall goal. It was interesting to see Hawk going for a singles title, which adds to my intrigue in the match. I have always been of the opinion that Hawk could have been a singles star had he wanted it and had his head screwed on straight. Animal? I’m not so sure, Hawk just always seemed to have much more charisma and was certainly a better promo. They would always come back together however, as we all know.
Match #4 is a Steel Cage Bunkhouse Stampede: Arn Anderson vs. The Barbarian vs. Tully Blanchard vs. Ivan Koloff vs. Road Warrior Animal vs. The Warlord vs. Dusty Rhodes vs. Lex Luger
Everyone takes a dance partner and goes to work. Arn Anderson and Dusty double team Ivan Koloff. Dusty almost eliminates Tully Blanchard immediately through the door. Luger and Warlord exchange blows as Dusty changes his attention back to Koloff. He goes for another elimination but Koloff holds on. Anderson and Blanchard try to double team Luger out of the cage to no avail. Koloff, Rhodes and Barbarian are all up on the top rope in one corner exchanging blows.
Barbarian tries to send Dream over but can’t get the big man over. Animal is stalking Tully Blanchard as they tight rope walk across the top rope. Animal grinds Blanchard’s face on the cage. Arn is being pursued by Dusty for an elimination but is saved when Koloff hits Dream from behind. Luger is up on the 2nd turnbuckle delivering blows to the head Barbarian. Rhodes throws Blanchard head first into the cage, where back in the center, Luger hits an atomic drop on Koloff. Arn Anderson is bloody and getting his face grated on the cage. Barbarian and Warlord double team Animal. Barbarian bites the bridge of Animal’s nose.
Luger is going crazy throwing rights to all comers and the crowd pops as Rhodes uses a strap on everyone else. The Barbarian is able to pull the strap away from Rhodes and uses it against him in the corner. Luger’s momentum slows and Arn Anderson delivers some rights. Animal has Dusty’s strap now and uses it on Koloff before giving it back to Rhodes. Dream whips Koloff who really seems outmatched. The Warlord and Barbarian with a double team clothesline on Animal. Arn Anderson has removed one of his boots. Koloff steals the strap and uses it against Rhodes’ bleeding arm. Luger takes the boot away from Arn Anderson and threatens to use it on Blanchard. Animal saves Rhodes from Koloff.
Luger is driven into the cage by the Warlord and receives a set of double team chops from he and Barbarian. We see Anderson being close to thrown over by Animal while partner Blanchard now has the strap around the neck of Koloff at the door. Anderson fights it off and is back in the ring delivering a double axe handle. Rhodes’ arm is a bloody mess. Ivan Koloff is eliminated over the top of the cage by Animal. Back in the ring, Luger rakes Barbarian’s eyes over the top rope. Barbarian fights back with some chops, but is met with an attack from Rhodes. At the door, the Warlord is hanging on tight as Animal is punching him out.
Animal is attacked from behind by the Barbarian and they both go out at the same time. Road Warrior Animal & The Warlord have been eliminated.The Horsemen and Rhodes and Luger team up and go at it. Power slam from Luger on Blanchard and he gets Tully into a brief torture rack submission. Barbarian takes over with Rhodes while Anderson tries to save his partner. Luger tries to fight both of them off but can’t overcome the double team. Barbarian is biting the bloody arm of Rhodes while the Horsemen carry Luger to the door. Luger fights back. Blanchard goes to the top rope, but Luger knocks him off.
All 3 men are battling at the door. Anderson hovers over a punching Luger on the apron. Blanchard is using his feet to slide Luger out but Anderson is father outside than Lex. All 3 men simultaneously fall out to the concrete. Arn Anderson, Lex Luger & Tully Blanchard have been eliminated. Only Dusty Rhodes and The Barbarian remain in the ring. Rhodes delivers some bionic elbows near the ropes but Paul Jones sneaks a foreign object into Barbarian’s hand. Barbarian wastes no time to use it.
Paul Jones cheers him on as Dusty is on his back in the middle of the ring. Barbarian goes to the top rope and delivers a diving headbutt. Barbarian drags Rhodes to the door. Both men are slowly out to the apron. Dream appears to be in trouble but comes back with more bionic elbows. Back in the ring, Rhodes whips Barbarian and hits an elbow. Both men to the turnbuckle and both men climb to the top rope. Rhodes lifts Barbarian to a seated position atop the cage. A first bionic elbow knocks Barbarian to the outside of the cage. A 2nd elbow knocks him to the floor.
Winner: Dusty Rhodes
- EA’s Take: Kind of like the scaffold matches, this gimmick match is visually interesting, but conceptually nonsensical. Granted, five of the competitors were eliminated at the door which is at least a realistic sell, but over the top of the cage? It meant there were a lot of spots where multiple wrestlers were up on the top turnbuckle and walking across the top rope in a way they never would in a normal match. Most of the time, the wrestlers were simultaneously climbing up the ropes willingly and unprompted. If your goal is to avoid being thrown over the cage, why would you put yourself in a more dangerous spot? It made as much sense as someone in a modern Royal Rumble choosing to jump over the top rope and fight guys off from the apron. Being eliminated at the door is more realistic, but the door eliminations weren’t very exciting. The guys gave a good brawl in the ring, but I think they would have been better off with a traditional battle royal concept.
EA’s Finisher: This two hour event leaves a lot to be desired and quite frankly, that would be reflected in the number of buys it would gain. It was widely ridiculed by the pundits, primarily because Dusty booked himself to win all four Bunkhouse Stampedes. Was it justified? Who am I to say? I think it may have helped had the dark match been on the main card, which was Sting & Jimmy Garvin vs. The Sheepherders, better known as The Bushwhackers. With only four matches, there was no reason that couldn’t be part of the broadcast. While many on this card are beloved Hall of Famers, none of these matches were exactly Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart putting on a technical clinic that captivates our attention for a long period of time. JCP will be back at it as they go to a whopping THREE PPVs in 1988, with The Great American Bash up next in June. It’s refreshing to cover an event other than Starrcade and JCP does have talent, but unless you are interested in seeing what this Bunkhouse Stampede match is all about, you should avoid this one.
Top Three To Watch
1 – Ric Flair vs. Road Warrior Hawk
2 – Bunkhouse Stampede
3 – Barry Windham vs. Larry Zbysko
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Leaping Through The Network: WCW Thunder #32 [September 17 1998]
It’s that time again to put the ‘Flashback Friday‘ into Flashback Friday as we leap through the WWE Network Pay Per View by Pay Per View and show by show in as random a way possible.
No sooner had the people at The Chairshot. com worked out that I can leap into a certain place like a random Wrestlemania or for that matter a Raw after Wrestlemania, they decided to impliment a vote allowing you, the reader, to vote for where you want me to go.
Vote you did and you chose WCW Thunder.
Back in the day WCW and WWE competed on opposite channels every Monday night from 1995 until 2001. With the rise of the NWO in WCW and a fairly tired format from WWE, WCW sat undefeated at the very top of the Monday Night ratings for 84 consecutive weeks. Cashing in on the popularity of Nitro/ milking what they could out of Nitro, WCW announced Thunder to air on Thusday nights would begin in early 1998. Many said it would dilute the hot product that was Nitro.
But was Thunder any good? To answer that one, it’s time for us to leap into….
Thunder #32 [September 17 1998]
Following the opening credits, we open with our comentary team of Tony Schiavone, Bobby Heenan and Lee Marshall who tell us that Ric Flair’s career is on the line tonight in an Arm Wrestling Match.
Wrath vs Bobby Eaton
Wrath grabs Eaton by the throat and pushes him into the corner to start this one following up with a boot and a chop. An Irish Whip and a Clothesline by Wrath before he steps on Eaton’s throat choking him and following that by standing on the apron and using the ropes for leverage to choke Eaton again. Wrath whips Eaton off the ropes but Eaton comes back with a series of punches. It doesn’t last long as a Pump Kick sends Eaton rolling to the outside. On the outside, Wrath pushes Eaton face first into the turnbuckle post before shoving Eaton back into the ring, climbing to the top turnbuckle and launching himself at Eaton connecting with a Flying Clothesline. After a Shoulder Block Wrath hits a Meltdown (a Pump Handle Powerslam) and gets the pinfall victory.
We see a brief highlight package of Ric Flair as his career is on the line later. Tony tells us that Hulk Hogan versus The Warrior has been signed for the upcoming Halloween Havoc pay per view. I can’t wait to cover that one.
Mike Enos vs Lenny Lane
Lenny Lane looks a lot like a young Chris Jericho which is odd because he isn’t Jericho and Mike Enos looks nothing like Blake Beverly from the old Beverly Brothers tag team which is odder because he is Blake Beverly.
A Collar and Elbow Tie-up goes nowhere so Enos pushes Lane into the corner and follows up with boots. Are they re-creating the previous match, because that’s exactly how that one started? Enos grabs Lane and, impresively, launches him across three quarters of the ring. Enos follows up with a Gorilla Press Slam and a couple of Elbow drops before Lane rolls out of the ring. Enos gives chase but Lane rolls back into the ring. He then drops Enos throat first across the top rope before launching himself over the top rope with a Plancha. In the ring, Lane gets a two from a Bulldog but Enos counters a Leap Frog by Lane into a Powerslam and a Clothesline before getting a two of his own from a Neckbreaker and follows up with a Stun Gun which is only broken because Lane gets a foot on the rope. Enos slows things down with a Chin Lock before unloading on Lane with kicks and punches but argues with the referee for a bit allowing Lane to get a two from a School Boy. A Cross Body by Lane is caught and countered into a Whirlwind Faceplant (best I can call it) and gets the pin and win for Enos.
Winner: Mike Enos
Mean Gene Okerlund is backstage with Scott Steiner and Buff Bagwell. Okerlund tells Scott that a match has been signed for Halloween Havoc between Scott and his brother, Rick Steiner. Scott says he’s looking forward to the match after he proved at Fall Brawl that he is bigger, stonger and faster than Rick. He proved it at Fall Brawl and he will do the same at Halloween Havoc.
We see highlights from last Sunday’s Fall Brawl where Chris Jericho took on a clearly fake Bill Goldberg and beat him with a Walls Of Jericho. Following that, we’re treated to another Ric Flair highlight video.
Vincent vs Steve Armstrong
Vincent misses a Clothesline and Armstrong catches him with an Inverted Atomic Drop before pulling Vincent’s bandana over his face and peppering him with punches that knock Vincent into the corner. AGAIN? It must be made of a thin material as Vincent gets his feet up to block a charging Armstrong before Vincent throws Armstrong over the top rope and out of the ring. Years ago in WCW this would have gotten him a DQ loss. Shame they dropped that rule. Vincent dives off the apron catching Armstrong with a flying Clothesline followed by a whip into the steel steps. Back in the ring, Vincent scales the turnbuckles and hits Armstrong with an Axe Handle. Vincent pulls on an Arm Wringer sending Armstrong down to the canvas and follows that up by legdropping Armstrong as he leans over the middle rope. A single arm DDT is transitioned into an Armbar and this one is over. Doesn’t explain why it happened though.
We get footage of WCW fans discussing their love of Ric Flair followed by a clip of Monday’s Nitro when Ernest Miller interfered in a Van Hammer vs Alex Wright match and got arrested.
Ernest Miller vs Rick Fuller
Miller gives Fuller three seconds to get out of the ring or he’s in trouble. Fuller doesn’t take it so Miller starts the match with Roundhouse Kicks to Fuller’s hamstring and tries choking Fuller with his jacket before hitting Fuller’s shoulder off the turnbuckle post and choking him with a wire. The referee takes a steel chair from Miller and Fuller applies a Bear Hug outside the ring. Miller bites his way out of that (and no that isn’t a spelling mistake he really did bite him) and whips Fuller into the ringside steps.
Back in the ring, MIller attacks Fuller’s left shoulder with knees and an Armbar. Fuller fights back with a Heart Chop and a Bodyslam but misses a second rope Splash allowing Miller to run up the ropes and hit a Roundhouse Kick he calls ‘the Feliner‘ for the win.
Winner: Ernest Miller
Yet another highlight video of Ric Flair airs.
Curt Hennig vs Norman Smiley
A Collar and Elbow Tie-up again just sort of ends. Hennig grabs Smiley in a Waistlock that Smiley reverses into one of his own forcing Hennig to grab the ropes to break it. Smiley applies a Hammerlock that he turns into a Front Face Lock and turns that into an Arm Wringer that he uses to Suplex Hennig which gets him an early two count. A side Headlock by Smiley is sent into the ropes but Smiley rebounds with a Shoulder Block. A second bounce of the ropes by Smiley is countered by Hennig with a Drop Toe Hold before Hennig works on Smiley’s left knee bringing his weight down on it and following that with a sort of knee wrench before taking it to the corner with kicks to the hamstring. Smiley fights back with an Uppercut and gets his feet up to block a charging Hennig. It’s not enough as Hennig catches Smiley with a Perfect Plex and not many kick out of that. Certainly not Smiley anyway.
Winner: Curt Hennig
More Flair highlights!!!
Kevin Nash & Konnan vs Scott Hall & Stevie Ray
Oh joy, it’s the drunk Scott Hall angle (!) Stevie Ray and Konnan start and Ray rakes Konnan’s eyes and smashes him down with Axe Handle Smashes and boots but Konnan fights back with a forward roll into a Clothesline, a Snapmare and a basement Dropkick. Konnan whips Ray into the corner and charges but is met by Ray’s boot and a Clothesline followed by a Bodyslam and stomps before tagging Hall who goes for an Abdominal Stretch but Konnan counters it with a Drop Toe Hold. After much stalling, a second Drop Toe Hold is transitioned into a Chinlock. Konnan lets Hall up and bounces him off the rope but Hall reverses it sending Konnan into the ropes where he’s met by Ray’s boot in the shoulder blades and a kick to the head from Hall. Hall gets distracted and is rolled up in a School Boy and a Small Package that both get two counts. A single punch by Konnan knocks Hall on his seat. Following a brief Coffee brak Hall fights back going for a Razor’s Edge but Konnan Back Drops his way out of it and applies another Chinlock before hitting a back kick and an X Factor that staggers Hall to the point that he falls out of the ring where is is counted out. Crowd boos loudly.
Winners: Kevin Nash & Konnan
We see highlights from Monday’s Nitro when Ric Flair returned to The Horsemen. This is a fairly famous promo where Arn Anderson brings out the current Horsemen while the crowd scream for Ric Flair. I’m skimming over it now but I’ll cover it better if/when we get to that Nitro. Mildly amusing is the contrast between Flair and Benoit. Flair is ranting about Bischoff and his face is going redder and redder and Benoit looks so dead pan.
Arn Anderson vs Eric Bischoff [Arm Wrestling Match]
Referee Nick Patrick explains the rules to both men. Bischoff reminds Arn it’s a left handed Arm Wrestling Match. Despite having nerve damage in his left arm, Arn’s OK with this. Bischoff isn’t. He backs off and stalls before ‘tagging out‘ and replacing himself with Buff Bagwell
Arn Anderson vs Buff Bagwell [Arm Wrestling Match]
Buff reminds Arn that he’s retired and mocks Arn’s ‘withered toothpick of an arm‘. Arn tells Buff the next time he sees Buff, he’ll have a tyre iron. In mere seconds, Buff wins over Arn’s injured arm.
Winner: Buff Bagwell
Buff and Bischoff celebrate and we fade out.
Post Show: This felt a lot like a B show. A 1998 version of Main Event, Superstars or Xplosion instead of being on the same level as Nitro. Most of the matches on here wouldn’t make it onto Nitro never mind pay per view. Worse still the matches were short making them feel even more pointless.
Match Of The Night: Curt Hennig vs Norman Smiley. I liked it. It was an enjoyable little taster of what they can do and it left me wanting more. None of the rest did.
MVP: I feel it has to be Ric Flair. Not even on the show and yet the whole episode felt built around him. While I may be the only wrestling fan that doesn’t like Ric Flair, WCW clearly loves him.
And with that it’s time to pack up and move on as I leap to another show. I can be found on Twitter @Callaweasy2220 where I live-Tweet my way through Raw, Smackdown, NXT and, when there’s one on, Pay Per View. As always there is a vote going on over @theCHAIRSHOTcom for where I’ll be heading to for upcoming shows so #UseYourHead and go there for that and while you are there, there are articles on Raw, Smackdown, 205, NXT, pay per Vews, News, reviews and Brock Lesnar.
I’m going blue and about to leap so have a fun week, I’ll be back next Friday and in the meantime ALWAYS have an Angle.
“Help me! Help me! The WWE Champion is kicking my butt! Help Me!”
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Flashback Friday: AJ Styles vs. Tyler Black (Seth Rollins) 4/28/06
Welcome to the first installment for Flashback Friday. The premise of the piece is to review an old match between opponents’ fans probably didn’t know had faced each other in the past; the matches will be accessible at the end of each column. For this month’s installment, the match is said to be the only time these two men faced each other to date, and it wasn’t in a WWE ring. The match took place on April 28th, 2006 in Muscatine, IA at an NWA No Limits show. The two men facing each other were current WWE champion AJ Styles and former WWE champion Seth Rollins. We should mention that this match was before there was a ‘Seth Rollins;’ at the time he went under the moniker of Tyler Black. The match went just over twenty-eight minutes and featured a more seasoned Styles against a green Tyler Black.
AJ Styles s. Tyler Black (Seth Rollins)
April 28, 2001, IWA No Limits (Muscatine, IA)
Times have changed for both men since then. The match took place in a gymnasium in front of a crowd of possibly a couple of hundred people. It begins with the camera focused on the entrance, and a very young, fresh-faced Tyler Black emerging from behind the heavy-duty steel doors. Fans immediately gravitated towards him as he slapped hands with everyone in attendance on his way to the ring. He was quite enthusiastic, soaking in all the adulation of the crowd as he stood on a table and slapped his chest, showing how pumped up he was for this match-up. Once Black is in the ring, the camera pans away to the doors to focus in on the next participant. Emerging from behind the doors was an equally fresh-faced AJ Styles, with his clean-cut look and short hair, and missing the AJ tattoo that runs down the right side of his rib cage. Styles, much like Black, walked in with much fanfare and carried a little more notoriety at the time. He also slapped hands with fans along his way to the ring. We can tell that this was relatively new for all involved, as it didn’t have the refined finish that we have become accustomed to seeing in the WWE today.
Both men stood in the ring prepared to go as they were announced for the match. We have to remember that, this being twelve years removed from today, it lends itself to seeing things from both men we may not necessarily see from them anymore. This is what proves to be so exciting about this match-up. The match started off simple enough with both men trying to feel their way along, trying to lock up not unlike what fans will see from either man today. Both men’s physiques have certainly developed since this match. Both have developed the strength of their upper body and core. The physical differences also make what we see from them here quite unique.
Early on, the match was fairly technical, with Styles taking Black down momentarily only to have it countered and Black recovering and gaining the advantage. Both men pretty much used a ground game to try to wear down and exhaust the other guy. Those in attendance appreciated the story these two were telling early on. Both men then began to exchange arm drags in what seemed like a progressive moment in the match. However, just when it appeared as though Black had the advantage, Styles regained the advantage with a side headlock on the mat. There were a few attempts to use leverage in order to make a pinning attempt. There weren’t a lot of high spots early on, with each man spending more time trying to work on their opposition. This was until Styles hit Black with a phenomenal dropkick and followed that up with a plancha to the outside the ring onto Black.
This was when it began to pick up. Styles rolled Black into the ring and attempted a pinfall, only getting a two count. He then proceeded to hit Black with a side backbreaker and once again got a two count. A vertical suplex led to another count of two. It was at this point where Black attempted to make a comeback by hitting Styles with a few kicks, almost defensively in order to keep distance between himself and the phenomenal one. However, that only went so far as Styles hit a vertical shoulder breaker leading to another pinfall attempt. Styles then transitioned to what appeared to be the last chancery, a submission maneuver made famous by Austin Aries. Black writhed in pain then struck Styles out of desperation in order to break the hold.
Black was battered and beaten, having been systematically worked on by Styles, who was proving that he is the veteran, of the two. However, when Styles attempted a springboard move, Black dropkicked the top rope knocking his opponent down. Black then climbed the top rope and hit a standing moonsault onto Styles on the outside, with nothing to brace their fall, but steel folding chairs. He then rolled Styles in the ring and attempted his own pinfall, but again only a two count was made. Black, still trying to recover himself from the earlier beating he received, was moving slowly as he slammed Styles. He then proceeded to hit a running senton. Styles attempted to make a comeback, but Black continued to get the advantage with a variation of a side headlock and reverse chin lock, wearing down the phenomenal one.
Once both men returned to a vertical base, Black hit a bridging suplex on Styles. He then followed it up with a rolling fireman’s carry into a standing moonsault, but only to a count of two. Styles slowly began to mount a comeback, only for Black to counter. Styles ended the sequence with a Pele kick, taking Black down and buying time to recover. Both men attempted standings suplexes, countering each other’s effort until Styles ultimately succeeded. He followed that up with a suplex into a standing reverse neckbreaker, once again to no avail. Styles signaled for the Styles Clash, but Black countered it and then caught AJ in mid-air for a powerbomb pinning combination.
The match truly began to pick up. Spots included Styles’ famous moonsault into a Scorpion death drop. Black then perched his opponent on the top rope and hit a superplex from the top rope, once again for a count of two. Both men appear completely exhausted at this point, but Black managed to hit a running kick and a standing 450 splash. Styles revived and again signaled for the Styles Clash, this time hitting it for the three count. While there may have only been a few hundred in attendance that didn’t take away from the action these two showcased in this match.
Winner via pinfall: AJ Styles
After the match, Styles got on the microphone and pointed out how good Black was. He said that he is the future and gave him the match of his life. It ended with a handshake a hug out of mutual respect. Fans shared their appreciation, and then Black got on the microphone and said ‘Thank you’ to AJ for helping make a dream come true. Once Black left the ring fans showed their respect for him by patting him on the back or giving him hugs.
All wrestlers have to start somewhere, and this match gave fans a glimpse of how these two tremendous athletes give it their all regardless of the size of the crowd. Styles had a higher level of recognition and popularity due to his being in TNA at the time, but Black was an unknown in comparison. The match took place prior to Black joining Ring of Honor, which was where a wider range of fans began to see just how talented he was. This small venue gave fans an opportunity to see this promising young talent in action.
The running time of the video is over 28 minutes, but that isn’t really an accurate account of the match. It was probably closer to about 20 minutes of in-ring action, which is quite telling as both men got a great deal of offense. When we consider the time when the match took place it makes sense that Styles walked away from the winner. However, Black (or Rollins) was certainly given an opportunity to show just how good he was. Before watching the match, it would have been easy to think that Black was green going in, but that wasn’t true at all. His moves looked polished, his selling of offense appeared refined, and this was twelve years before he was in WWE, where he has only gotten better.
It is incredible to think that nearly twelve years after this match, both men are now prominently featured performers in WWE, but have never faced each other while with the company. A number of the moves the men performed in the match perhaps couldn’t be done today. However, it is probably safe to assume that they could put on an even better performance today. We have to consider that in WWE oftentimes a day is dedicated to planning out a match, in order to have it appear as flawless as possible in its execution.
We hope you enjoyed this little trip down memory lane, and encourage you to watch the match for your own enjoyment.
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