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Chairshot Classics: NWA Starrcade ’85 – The Gathering

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Open: Bob Caudle & Tony Schiavone are ringside and welcome the loud crowd at the Omni in Atlanta. Standing by at the Greensboro Coliseum is Johnny Weaver who explains that there are over 17,000 excited fans there as the event was taking place at two separate sold out venues, and broadcast back and forth via closed-circuit television. Back to Caudle and Schiavone who induce a big crowd pop with mention of Dusty Rhodes returning from injury to be in action tonight. It is announced that both cage matches will take place in Greensboro. Schiavone explains that all major titles except for the TV title will be on the line tonight and we’re ready to kick off the action starting in Greensboro with the National Anthem (after an odd tech error that shoots us backstage for an awkward moment with Weaver)!

Match #1 for the Vacant NWA Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Championship: Krusher Kruschev vs. Sam Houston
Caudle emphasizes that it’s anyone’s game despite Kruschev’s size advantage. The two lock up, Kruschev quickly throws Houston backwards on his head. Lock up, Houston uses momentum to send Kruschev through the middle rope onto the floor. Kruschev returns to the ring angry and misses a clothes line. He turns around the two exchange punches, crowd pops. The two regroup. Kruschev looks baffled by Houston’s ability to match him. He lifts Houston up by the neck with both hands and slams him to the mat. Tries to follow with a standing elbow drop, Houston moves. Back to their feet, lock up, Kruschev powers Houston to the rope and delivers a knee, but when he whips him to the rope Houston counters a gorilla press and lands on his feet. Kruschev misses a series of punches while Houston lands retaliatory punches. Houston applies a long headlock.

Finally Kruschev is able to whip Houston into the ropes and a the two have a fast paced series before Houston is able to take him down with a headscissor take down. Locked in a head scissor submission, Kruschev powers his way up. He maneuvers to pin Houston’s shoulders in a couple of near falls. Kruschev gets to his feet, picks Houston up off the ground and carries him to a seated position on the top rope. Houston deflects Kruschev away from the turnbuckle. Houston misses an axehandle but connects a dropkick. Some mat work followed by a strong arm bar by Houston. The crowd pops when Kruschev writhes in pain. Krusher breaks the hold and whips Houston into the ropes and lands a massive backdrop. He taunts the booing crowd. More heat as he lands a 2nd backdrop. Kruschev whips Houston into the ropes and catches him for a long bear hug. Houston breaks it with a punch but, but Kruschev body slams Houston in the middle of the ring and heads for the top rope.

Houston wills his way up and dropkicks the turnbuckle before Kruschev can do anything. Houston delivers a long series of punches both on the mat and at the turnbuckle. Houston whips Kruschev into the opposing turnbuckle and calls for the bulldog. A 3 count is made, but Kruschev had his foot on the rope. Houston celebrates his win unaware of this. When he turns, Kruschev delivers the Russian Sickle, covers and Houston gets his leg on the rope, but the ref misses it and we have a new champ.
Winner and NEW NWA Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Champion: Krusher Kruschev (Russian Sickle)

  • EA’s Take: For the first time in the three years of Starrcade, our opening bout involves not one, but TWO men I’m familiar with! Bonus! The master of the Russian Sickle, Barry Darsow, will of course be known for his portrayal of Smash in the WWF later, but this was his big break after making noise in Georgia and Florida. Unlike Nikita, Krushev was an American who was not portraying himself as Russian, merely a sympathizer. The hot babyface here, Sam Houston, is a second generation star, the half-brother of Jake Roberts. His arrival in the Mid-Atlantic immediately put him on the map, which will happen when you’re billed as the protege of Dusty Rhodes and Magnum TA. If I were to rate this match against the past two Starrcade openers, bar none this will be tops of the list. A nice, slow burn to this one and I found the reversal spots to be wisely placed, allowing for the crowd to get further behind the young Houston.

Match #2 is a Mexican Death Match: ‘The Raging Bull’ Manny Fernandez vs. Abdullah The Butcher w/Paul Jones
The winner of this match is the first man to grab the sombrero. The action starts quickly with Abdullah dominating the action, beating Manny with a couple of foreign objects and quickly splitting him open. Abdullah chokes him on the ropes before Fernandez makes a comeback, Manny gets him to the mat and jumps off the turnbuckle, clocking The Butcher with his boot. Several more boot shots follow, Abdullah’s got the crimson mask, The Raging Bull attempts a running shot with the boot now, but The Butcher trips him up. Abdullah takes the boot and uses it on Manny, makes his 1st attempt for the hat, but Fernandez hits him with a low blow.

Paul Jones being held back by the referee and The Raging Bull goes to work with body shots using the boot. He makes an attempt at the hat, but takes a shot from Abdullah with the boot. Abdullah attempts the hat, but Fernandez whips and beats him with his belt. Punches exchanged. Abdullah headbutts The Raging Bul to the mat and misses an attempted running elbow drop. Fernandez hits him with a running lariat. More hits with the belt followed by an impressive suplex. Fernandez’s hat attempt thwarted by a low blow. Abdullah head butts him but Fernandez ducks a clothesline and hits him with ‘The Flying Burrito’. Fernandez to the top rope but misses a splash. Abdullah misses a turnbuckle thrust and hits the post. This allows Fernandez to grab the hat and win the match.
Winner: ‘The Raging Bull’ Manny Fernandez

  • EA’s Take: Ahh yes, the 80’s…when politically correct didn’t exist. If you’ve followed along from Starrcade ’83, you already knew what to expect going into this one from Abdullah and we saw a lot of the same from Fernandez last year. Abdullah is a legend if you look at what he did for the hardcore style, which is why he’s a WWE Hall Of Famer (Yes, I’m aware it’s a bit of a joke, but still). Fernandez’s efforts in the ring that I’m familiar with are limited to these events, so it has got me thinking. If Abdullah is considered a “fore-father of hardcore”, does Manny deserve the same consideration?

Backstage: Johnny Weaver is with Krusher Kruschev, Krusher claims to be the happiest man in the world and thanks The Koloffs for making him the”Russian” athlete that he is, vowing to show all Americans that they’re physically superior. Kruschev addresses The Koloffs’ match later, warning that The Rock n’ Roll Express is about to learn the same lesson.

Match #3 is a Texas Bullrope Match – If Bass Wins, He Gets A Match With James J. Dillon: ‘Cowboy’ Ron Bass vs. Black Bart w/James J. Dillon
A tug of war ensues with the rope, Bass kicks Bart to the ground, wraps the rope around Bart’s neck in the corner and delivers some punches with a cowbell, causing Bart to bleed. Bass continues the offense, Bart has a few comeback shots here and there, but Bass is abusing him with the cowbell. Bart finally gets in a low shot and gains control of the bell. After the first shot, Bass is cut now, Bart works hims into the corner and digs at his forehead with the bell. Exchange of punches and Bart delivers some elbows. Bass manages to get Bart down and slams his head into the mat. He wraps the rope around the forehead of a screaming Bart, more punches are exchanged before Bart attempts to clothesline Bass over the ropes.

Bass avoids it and Bart launches over the top rope to the floor, The Cowboy jumps to the other side of the ring apron, then delivers a jumping blow with the cowbell. Back to the ring, more cowbell shots to Bart followed by a kick. He wraps the rope around the back of Barts neck to pull him in for 3 big punches. Bart falls to his back. Pinfall attempt, kickout at 2. Both men back to their feet. Bart with some offense, whips Bass to the ropes but Bass hits a shoulder takedown. Both men lying on the mat. JJ Dillon pleading at ringside for Bart to get up. Bart is up first and misses a punch. From his knees, Bass hits another cowbell shot. When Bart tries to get up the rope is pulled, flipping him to the mat. Back on their feet, punches are exchanged and Bass is backed into the corner. Bart misses a running lariat. Bass maneuvers Bart into position, climbs to the 2nd rope and delivers one final cowbell blow to put it away.
Winner: ‘Cowboy’ Ron Bass (Cowbell Shot)

  • EA’s Take: The Long Riders are no more and Bass is the one who “sees the light”, leading to this slugfest that can be completely summed up in one sentence: both guys clobber each other with a cowbell until there’s a three count. A little unusual putting two hardcore-type matches back-to-back as well. This would serve as a finale for the former partners, Bart going on to feud for and win the Mid-Atlantic Title before leaving for World Class. The Cowboy’s departure is still more than a year away, but it’s yet another departure from NWA upcoming nonetheless.

Match #4 is a Texas Bullrope Match: ‘Cowboy’ Ron Bass vs. James J. Dillon w/Black Bart
JJ Dillon tries to take advantage of the situation by rushing Bass and kicking him to the mat immediately after the bell. He stomps and kicks Bass while he’s down before the ref can tie them together, Dillon hits Bass with the cowbell and gets a 2 count. Dillon chokes him with the rope, The Cowboy makes the crowd pop as he starts the comeback to his feet. JJ tries to run from the ring, gets yanked back, pleading with Bass not to hit him with the cowbell. Bass declines and clocks him, busting Dillon open, then continues the attack and gets JJ wobbly-legged. He does the same punching spot with the rope around the back of Dillon’s neck, Bass goes for one more big shot with the cowbell, but hits the referee on his wind-up. The Cowboy goes for the pin without realizing the official’s down, Bart takes the opening, hits the ring and ambushes him. BHe spikes Bass with a piledriver, drags Dillon on top for the cover and JJ steals the win.
Winner: James J. Dillon (Interference)

  • EA’s Take:  It’s kind of crazy to think about because he looks much older, but JJ was only 43 years old at this time, so stepping in the ring wasn’t really too uncommon for him yet. The NWA’s version of Bobby Heenan, Dillon is still backing a stable of performers, like most managers of the time. He’ll quickly ascend up the managerial ladder and overshadow Paul Jones, much like this match did the one previous.

Match #5 Arm Wrestling Challenge: ‘Superstar’ Billy Graham vs. The Barbarian w/Paul Jones
This contest is for $10,000 prize. Barbarian seems unfamiliar with the rules. Long bout. Both men drop to their knees and struggle. As Graham is about to win, Paul Jones hits him with his cane leading to a bloody Superstar and a DQ.
Winner: ‘Superstar’ Billy Graham (Disqualification)

Match #6: ‘Superstar’ Billy Graham vs. The Barbarian w/Paul Jones
Match begins with Barbarian taking advantage of the cane shot using vicious headbutts and kicks. Whips Graham into the ropes for a big boot that connents, tries to follow with a leg drop that’s off the mark and Graham comes back with some punches. He shoots Barbarian into the corner, but Barbarian rebounds right out and shoves Superstar to the canvas. Barbarian to the top rope for the flying headbutt, Superstar avoid it, quickly back to his feet with some kicks, whips Barbarian into the ropes and applies his trademark Bearhug. The Barbarian tries going for punches to break free, but Graham wrenches it in tighter until he starts to fade. Ref goes to check the arm, Paul Jones again gets involved, cracks Superstar with the cane and we get a second disqualification.
Winner: ‘Superstar’ Billy Graham (Disqualification)

  • After The Bell: When Jones attempts another cane shot, Graham intercepts it, hits him once in the corner before Barbarian comes in from behind. Superstar falls to the floor and Barbarian follows, only to slam Graham into the post. The two stumble outside the barricade and Barbarian scores with a chair shot now, the ref is able to finally separate the two and declares raises Superstar’s hand.
  • EA’s Take: The Karate Kid version of Billy Graham is no more and he’s back to being his old ‘Superstar’ self, at least gimmick-wise. Barbarian is another bruiser of course, so while it’s nice to have two names that most would be familiar with, the sledding is not so smooth. If you’ve seen one arm wrestling match, you’ve seen them all in terms of pro wrestling standards. Also, they just went to the second location for this match without saying anything. Very unusual.

Match #7 for the NWA National Heavyweight Championship: ‘The Nature Boy’ Buddy Landel w/James J. Dillion vs. NWA National Heavyweight Champion Terry Taylor
Landel teases a lockup and instead fluffs his hair and taunts the crowd with a…moonwalk?!. Lockup, Landel powers Taylor into the corner, but Taylor jumps up and they go nose-to-nose. Lockup again and we go to the ropes. Ref breaks it up. Landel slaps Taylor on the chest and Taylor slaps him across the face in return, Landel cowering around the ring on his backside. Ref backs Terry off. Lockup, arm bar by Landel this time around and he taunts the crowd some more. Taylor finally breaks free with an arm drag. Lockup and they go to the ropes once again, the ref breaks them apart, Landel attempts two cheap shots which are blocked by Taylor, who in turn lands a right. Regroup. Lockup, Landel with a snapmare takedown.

Headlock on the mat. Taylor muscles Landel over for a quick near fall, but The Nature Boy gets his positioning back. Both men to their feet with the headlock still applied, Taylor is able to reverse the maneuver into an armbar. Landel to the mat, armbar still applied. Taylor gets the shoulders down for several near falls, knees the affected arm and both men to their feet. Lockup to the corner. Knees to the stomach from Landel followed by chops, whips Taylor to the opposite corner, but Terry reverses  and scores with a big boot. He shoots Landel to the ropes and hits a back body drop, goes to the ropes himself for a knee to the head and a finds a 1 count.

Armbar by Taylor, Landel reverses it and lands a stiff punch. Landel laying on a series of punches in the corner followed by a snapmare takedown. Landel applying a front headlock on the mat. Once to their feet, Taylor reverses with a side suplex, followed by a backbreaker. Taylor with a standing leg drop and attempts a pin but Landel has his leg on the rope. Landel whips Taylor into the corner and delivers a running lariat. 2 count. Landel in position for a snap suplex but Taylor reverses into a small package. 2 count. Landel gets up hot and stomps Taylor. Landel applies a chinlock. Taylor up to his knees, walks a few steps and throws Landel into the bottom turnbuckle. Taylor with some chops in the corner followed by a snapmare. Taylor stands on Landel’s face and then pulls him up for a suplex. 2 count.

Taylor with a whip into the corner and lands repeated headshots into the turnbuckle. Ref pulls Taylor away and Landel turns around for a punch that knocks both Taylor and the ref to the mat. Dillon up on the apron with his shoe. Taylor reverses the Irish whip and forces Landel to knock Dillon off. Taylor sets up for his trademark superplex. As he gets Landel up, Dillon trips Taylor causing Landel to fall on Taylor. Pinfall 1-2-3.
Winner and NEW NWA National Heavyweight Champion: Buddy Landel (Interference)

  • EA’s Take: Don’t adjust your screens folks, that is in fact NOT Ric Flair, but an essential carbon copy in look and gimmick. Buddy Landel was going for the whole, “I’m the real Nature Boy” thing and it worked to a degree. Honestly, had he gone with another gimmick he may have had even more success. His opponent, Terry Taylor, what can you really say about him? He had solid runs, but is really known for the amount of people he’s broken in and helped further their careers along. The match I found to be fantastic, despite the fact that neither of these men were ever considered “big stars”. They are consummate professionals in the ring and The Nature Boy really could work the crowd. That is vitally important when you’re in the ring against a “white-meat” babyface such as Taylor. It’s funny that Landel is considered the tops of Dillon’s stable right now, since JJ will soon be “upgrading” one Nature Boy for another.

Match #8 for the NWA National Tag Team Championships: NWA National Tag Team Champions The Minnesota Wrecking Crew (Ole & Arn Anderson) vs. Wahoo McDaniel & Billy Jack Haynes
Arn and McDaniel start. They lock up, McDaniel powers Arn to the turnbuckle twice in a row. Lock up once more, McDaniel with a headlock. Whips Arn to the rope, picks him up for Gorilla press slam. Arn falls to the corner and tags Ole. The two lock up followed by an exchange of punches. McDaniel with the upper hand and Wahoo gets a shot in as well. McDaniel makes the tag. Wahoo whips Ole to the rope and hits him with a chop, followed by a snapmare and elbow drop to the head. Ole is able to crawl over for the tag. Arn and Wahoo lock up.

Wahoo ducks a punch and lands a chop. Wahoo with a headlock to Arn followed by a takedown to the mat with the headlock still applied. Arn reverses into a headscissor submission. Arn up to a seated position with Wahoo’s face driven into the mat. Wahoo muscles out and delivers a seated lariat. Both men to their feet. Lock up, Arn with a headlock, falls back into his corner and tags Ole with the headlock applied. Ole with some punches to Wahoo’s back before Arn releases. Ole with a snapmare. Ole with a submission maneuver. Wahoo gets a slap in but Ole quickly gets the tag. Arn continues to work on the arm with holds, kicks and knees.

While still applying a chicken wing, Arn tags Ole once again and Ole picks up where Arn left off. Ole delivers a body slam and gets a near fall. Works Wahoo to the corner for another tag and double team. McDaniel impatiently enters the ring and attacks Ole from behind and all 4 men go at it. The ref redirects McDaniel and Arn puts Wahoo in another armbar. Wahoo trying to fight back with chops but Arn again is able to make the tag. After working the arm some more, Wahoo is able to escape, roll to his corner and tag McDaniel. As he did so, Arn is tagged in and McDaniel delivers punches to both Andersons capping off by smashing their heads together.

Wahoo re-enters the ring until the ref is able to get Ole and Wahoo out of there. The legal men work to McDaniel’s corner where he makes the tag. Wahoo with chops to Arn, whips him to the ropes and delivers a clothesline. A 2 count before Ole makes the save. The ref directs Ole out and he moves to the floor. Wahoo applies a headlock, but Arn is able to whip him to the ropes. Wahoo is tripped by Ole from the floor. 2 count. McDaniel is in the ring upset about Ole. Wahoo works Arn into the Wrecking Crew’s corner while the ref is distracted, and Ole trips Wahoo to the mat and holds his legs down. Arn makes the cover 1-2-3.
Winners and STILL NWA National Tag Team Champions: The Minnesota Wrecking Crew (Arn/Interference)

  • EA’s Take: As you would expect, superb technical work by TMWC, really demonstrating what dominating tag team wrestling is all about. The 27-year old Arn (Yes, he was bald by 27) comes in as Ole’s kayfabe nephew and immediately reinvigorates his “uncle’s” career. We know Wahoo’s story after the last two Starrcade’s, but his partner is a newcomer in Billy Jack Haynes. Billy Jack comes from Florida and the Portland (OR) area, teaming with The Chief in this heated rivalry, but would abruptly leave the company for the WWF in 1986 after a confrontation with Jim Crockett. It would work out in the end for The Andersons because much like the Drake line, if Wahoo & Billy Jack were a pair of ex’s to ask where they were going, Arn & Role would reply, “Onto better things”.

Match #9 I Quit Match for the NWA United States Championship: Magnum T.A. vs. NWA United States Champion Tully Blanchard w/Baby Doll
To win this match, your opponent must say the words “I quit” and it will also be contested inside the confines of a steel cage. The two lock up. Blanchard whips him down by 1 leg but Magnum kicks him of. Tackle to the mat and the two struggle for the upper hand. Blanchard works him to the corner and the two men return to their feet. Blanchard with the offense first but Magnum retaliates with a series of punches and uppercuts of his own. Magnum attempts to slam Blanchard into the cage but he holds on for a block. Blanchard on offense now and is able to whip Magnum into the case. Blanchard applies a camel clutch but Magnum works his way to his feet. Blanchard with a knee to the kidney. Magnum reverses the Irish whip and picks Blanchard up dropping him neck first on the rope.

The two exchange more punches and kicks. Blanchard falls to his knees but grabs Magnums trunks and throws him into the cage. More submission battling on the mat. Both men back to their feet. Blanchard delivers knees but Magnum able to throw him head first into the cage. Magnum picks him up and does it again. Blanchard is bleeding. Magnum demands, Blanchard refuses and headbutts T.A. in the stomach. Both men on their knees, Magnum delivering labored punches followed by a submission move on the mat. Magnum also has color. The bloodied men do a little brawling. With Magnum on his back, Blanchard demands, Magnum refuses.

Blanchard hits him on the head with the microphone and asks again. Magnum refuses. Blanchard delivers 4 right hands before picking him up and driving him into the cage. Blanchard goes to the top rope and delivers an axehandle. He demands again. With labored breathing, Magnum refuses. Blanchard delivers one standing elbow drop but Magnum moves for the 2nd. Magnum makes a comeback of punches and grabs the microphone. Blanchard refuses. Magnum delivers kicks to the stomach, pulls Blanchard up and clocks him with the mic. Demands again, Blanchard refuses. Both men roll on the mat digging at eyes and pulling on hair.

Both looking weary but exchanging punches from their knees. Magnum demands and Blanchard kicks the mic from his hands. Blanchard hits Magnum with the mic twice and demands again. Magnum refuses. Blanchard with some elbow drops and a knee to the ref. Blanchard throws the ref aside and a wooden chair is thrown into the cage. Blanchard breaks the chair into pieces and kicks the referee. Blanchard attempts to stab Magnum with a broken piece of wood but it is intercepted and they have a power struggle on the mat. Magnum knees Blanchard to the mat, grabs a piece of broken wood and drives it into Blanchard’s forehead. Blanchard quits. Huge pop from the crowd.
Winner and NEW NWA United States Champion: Magnum T.A.

  • EA’s Take: This is by far the most enjoyable match of the card to this point, to nobody’s surprise if you’re familiar with Tully & Magnum, two of the most underrated performers in history to me. The rivalry was hot, the crowd was hot. It was the perfect storm and just an absolute war, but was brutally violent and if you’re squeamish may not be for you. Even Baby Doll was key, as her screams of terror for what was happening to Blanchard just draws you in more. Did to me at least. You already know how I feel about Blanchard if you read Starrcade ’84 and Magnum really echoes those same feelings, but on the babyface side. Obviously his name comes from his similarity to Tom Selleck and ‘Magnum P.I.’, which sounds silly now, but at the time Tom Selleck was what my mother would consider a “nice piece of man meat”. So you can only imagine the screams from women for Magnum TA and those would only increase over the coming year. He could have been and SHOULD have been one of the all-time greats, but in October of ’86 a devastating car crash would leave the right side of his body paralyzed for months, taking away his career and nearly his life. It’s really one of the tragedies of wrestling.

Match #10 is an Atlanta Street Fight: The Midnight Express (Bobby Eaton & Dennis Condrey) w/ James E. Cornette vs. Jimmy Valiant & Miss Atlanta Lively w/Big Mama
Mayhem ensues at the start when the Midnight Express try to rush their opponents. Lively sprays Condrey in the face with some kind of powder while Eaton and Valiant do battle outside of the ring. Lively chokes Condrey in the ring with a necklace while Valiant works Eaton over with a chair outside. They trade opponents in the ring exchanging some punches and the Midnight Express gets some comeback momentum. Condrey is working Lively in the corner. Valiant tosses Eaton across the cement floor outside the gate and re-enters the ring to save Lively. Eaton makes his way back to the ring but the double team of Lively and Valiant whip Condrey into his partner.

Valiant drops to a knee and puts Condrey in a headlock punching him several times with an unidentified foreign object. Valiant whips Condrey into the rope and catches him in a sleeper hold. Cornette wills Eaton back in the ring who engages with Lively. Eaton gets foreign object from his boot. It is some sort of powder thrown into the eyes of Valiant. Condrey and Eaton take advantage and attack him with a series of punches and kicks. Eaton throws the powder in Lively’s face. The Express remove their belts and whip and choke their opponents. Valiant is thrown to the floor and the Express double team Lively. Holding both arms, Cornette enters the ring and hits Lively over the head with some sort of racket. Condrey picks Lively up for Eaton who is preparing an elbow from the 2nd rope. He hits the elbow and Eaton kicks Valiant who was trying to re-enter the ring.

Valiant makes it into the ring but is thrown out again. More double teaming on Lively. Here comes Valiant again who lands punches on both members of the Express. Eaton and Condrey grab him, whip him into the ropes and Valiant goes down from a double elbow. Condrey positions Valiant as Eaton goes to the 3rd rope. Eaton leaps but is cutoff and punched in the face by Lively who falls to the mat. Eaton is knocked out and Lively pins him 1-2-3 just in time as Cornette was attempting to break it up.
Winners: Jimmy Valiant & Miss Atlanta Lively (Lively/Punch)

  • After The Bell: Lively and Valiant get ahold of Cornette and strip him to his boxer shorts.
  • EA’s Take: This one will probably only leave you feeling one of two ways; either you loved it or you hated it. It’s gimmicky, it’s silly, but it’s also kind of fun, which is what wrestling is supposed to be and sometimes I forget that. While seeing Ronnie Garvin as Miss Atlanta Lively is certainly something I could live without, the guy can definitely perform, as can The Midnight Express. Oddly enough, this version of The ME would really put the team on the map, but most don’t know it was rehashed with Condrey, an original in 1980 alongside Randy Rose in Southeast Championship Wrestling.

Match #11 is a Steel Cage Match for the NWA World Tag Team Championships: NWA World Tag Team Champions The Koloffs (Ivan & Nikita) w/Krusher Kruschev vs. The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express (Ricky Morton & Robert Gibson) w/Don Kernodle
Nikita and Morton start. They lock up and Nikita powers him down into the corner. Morton runs the ropes and hits Nikita with a dropkick. They slow it down and pace the ring. Nikita with a kick to the gut, punch to the back, turnbuckle shot and a kick to the mat. He makes the tag to Ivan. Morton escapes his grasp, runs the ropes 4 times before landing a crossbody. Morton puts Ivan in a standing headlock but Ivan counters by lifting Morton, dropping him crotch first on the ropes and kicking him while down. 2 count. Ivan attempts to launch Morton into the cage, Morton blocks with his foot. Morton lands a few punches and tags in Gibson. Gibson whips Ivan into the ropes and lands a drop kick. Gibson bodyslams Ivan and lands a jumping knee to the skull. 2 Count.

Gibson headlocks Ivan and tags Morton. He works Ivan down to the mat. 2 Count. Reverse headlock and another tag. Gibson tackles Ivan. 2 count. Another reverse headlock and tag to Morton. He chokes Ivan to the ropes, lands a punch, and yet another reverse headlock for a tag to Gibson. Gibson lands elbow from the 2nd rope. 2 count. Ivan finally makes a comeback. Whips Gibson to the ropes but he ducks a clothesline and bear hugs Ivan into the cage. He picks Ivan up and slams him into the cage again. Picks up Ivan and holds him behind the arms while Morton comes off the top rope for an axehandle. Morton’s turn to slam him into the cage and come off the top rope for another axehandle. 2 Count. Tag to Gibson. Punch to the head. 2 count.

Both men up and Ivan fights back with an eye rake and is able to get the tag to Nikita. Ivan holds Gibson in place for a double axe handle from Nikita. Gibson is whipped into the ropes, grabbed in a bear hug and sent face first into the cage. Nikita picks up Gibson for 2 more hits into the cage. Nikita walks to Morton’s corner and gives him an elbow. Morton enters the ring the illegal man trying to attack Nikita and the ref redirects him. Ivan goes to the top rope on his side and delivers an axehandle to Gibson. He picks Gibson up and delivers shoulders to the midsection followed by a launch into the cage. Ivan with a standing elbow. 2 count. Ivan whips Gibson into the rope and sets up for a backbody drop but Gibson stops short and delivers a kick. The exhausted Gibson falls to the mat and Ivan is up first. He tags Nikita who delivers kicks while Gibson is down.

Nikita bites the bridge of the nose until the ref pulls him off. Bodyslam to Gibson. The ref goes to argue with an irate Morton while Ivan returns to the third rope and delivers another punch. 2 count before Morton breaks it up. Whips Gibson into the rope and kicks him in the kidney. Gibson falls to the 2nd rope. Ivan misses his attempt move on the rope. Ivan walks Gibson to the Koloffs turnbuckle. Nikita is holding his arms and biting his face while Ivan delivers midsection blows. Morton rushes Ivan and pulls him off. The ref redirections Morton once again. Ivan whips Gibson into the ropes, kick to the midsection, snapmare takedown, standing legdrop. 2 count. Ivan misses his next legdrop. Ivan makes the tag to Nikita who takes Gibson down into a seated sleeper hold. Gibson fights out of it but the the tag is made to Ivan. Headbutts and knees to Gibson. 2 count – leg on the rope.

Gibson is brought to his feet and fights back with punches until Nikita rushes the ring and delivers a kidney shot and slams him into the cage. 2 count broken up by Morton. Tag to Ivan. Gibson is whipped into the ropes, he sneaks between Ivan’s legs and delivers a dropkick. Crowd is chanting USA. Gibson attempts a cover but the ref is down. Morton rushes the ring and is hit with a lariat from Nikita. Nikita then hits Gibson with a lariat and Ivan covers but the ref is still down. Both men to their feet. Nikita whips Gibson to the rope who tags Morton in the process. He delivers a backbody drop to Gibson but Morton rushes him into the rope from behind and rolls him into a double leg cradle. The ref is there for a 1-2-3 pin. Enormous pop.
Winners and NEW NWA World Tag Team Champions: The Rock & Roll Express (Morton/Double Leg Cradle)

  • After The Bell: The Koloffs are up and grab Gibson. Morton escapes by climbing over the cage, but Krusher Kruschev enters the cage with a chain. The 3 clothesline Gibson with the chain. Triple team clothesline from the top rope followed by whipping Gibson with the chain. Wrestlers from the back come out to fend off the Russians.
  • EA’s Take: After being paired together by Jerry Lawler in 1983, Morton & Gibson would arrive in Jim Crockett Promotions in 1985 and quickly take the division by storm. If you are a fan of The Rockers, Michaels & Jannetty, you can thank these guys for it as they are really the originators of the oft-used tandem offense style of tag wrestling…and they are fun to watch. The Russians are still hot as heels with the Cold War still ongoing, Nikita is coming along, but he’s still a little more “sizzle” than “steak” as Good Ol’ JR would say. Ivan is still able to hold a good portion of the work and combining that with the energy of Morton & Gibson makes this one of the better matches of the night.

Match #12 for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship: ‘The American Dream’ Dusty Rhodes vs. NWA World Heavyweight Champion ‘Nature Boy’ Ric Flair
Dusty gets the crowd going with a strut around the ring. Lockup, Dusty is in the corner and Flair takes a cheap shot when the ref breaks them up. The two exchange chops until Dusty gets about 10 punches in a row in knocking Flair to his back. Rhodes struts. Flair rolls out to the floor and paces. Back to the ring and they lock up again. Flair gets a little offense in before Rhodes takes control again delivering many of his patented elbows. Flair is flustered and rolls out of the ring again. A long staredown ensues. A lockup, Rhodes reverses a headlock into a chicken wing. Flair drops to the mat kicking his feet and screaming. Flair makes it to the ropes and the hold is broken.

Both men to their feet and cautious to lock up. Flair on the offense with chops and digs. Snapmare take down by Flair and a knee to the head. “Wooo!”. 1 count. Armbar by Flair who kicks Rhodes behind the knee. Rhodes yelps and rolls out of the ring. Flair grabs Rhodes as he gets up the apron. Rhodes blocks Flair’s punch and delivers some elbows with Flair stuck on the top rope. Flair to the mat and Rhodes stomps Flair’s knee. Rhodes pulls him on his back to the center of the ring and an elbow to the knee. Rhodes applies a submission hold targeting that knee. Flair in pain attempting to break the hold by putting Rhodes in a headlock.

Rhodes to his feet again holding Flair’s leg. The crowd pops and another elbow to the knee. Flair is able to get up after a poke to the eye. Flair positions for a suplex but can’t lift him as he’s favoring the knee. Rhodes reverses the hold and suplexes Flair. Another elbow and submission hold to the knee. Both men work their way to their feet. Whip to the ropes. Rhodes hits flair with a shoulder takedown. Another whip and Flair puts Rhodes in a sleeper. Rhodes escapes by running Flair into the turnbuckle and Flair goes down. Rhodes pulls Flair to the corner and smashes the knee on the pole.

Back to the ring and more stomps and elbows to the knee. More exchanging of chops and weak snapmare to Flair. Rhodes misses a standing elbow drop. Flair limping around the ring but goes to the top rope. Rhodes is up and gives Flair a gorilla press from the top. Both men staggering. Flair is the first to attack and gets Rhodes down on his back. He attempts a figure four leg lock but Rhodes kicks him away. Flair tries again, same result. Flair comes back and stomps Rhodes’ head. Flair picks Rhodes up, puts him in the corner and tries to target Rhodes’ leg but Dusty fight back. He whips Flair to the opposite corner and he does his trademark fall over the turnbuckle and onto the floor. Rhodes follows him to the floor and drives Flair into the ringpost.

He picks Flair up to his knee and smashes him on the gate. Rhodes back into the ring. Flair climbs onto the Apron and Rhodes hits more elbows to the head. Flair is pulled back into the ring and he reverses Rhodes’ attack and throws him over the top rope. Rhodes is quick to return to his feet and he climbs onto the apron and onto the top turnbuckle. Flair rushes over to give him a gorilla press but Rhodes falls and lands on top of him. The ref is delayed to lay down for the count. 2 count. Both men slow to their feet. Rhodes blocks a punch and lands one of his own. Flair to the mat. Rhodes kneels over Flair’s chest and delivers a series of punches. Pulling him back up and to the corner, more elbows and stands on the 2nd rope for more punches. Flair with his trademark face first fall to the mat. Crowd cheering. He pulls Flair back up for another barrage.

Flair is seated and scooting backwards away pleading for no more. Rhodes picks him up near one turnbuckle and whips him to the opposite. Flair flips over the rope again but this time stays on his feet, runs across and climbs the other top rope, but is hit in the midsection when he jumps to hit Rhodes. Flair crawls to the opposite turnbuckle and Rhodes attempts a punt. Flair moves and Rhodes kicks the turnbuckle. Both men are down. Flair is the first one up and takes Rhodes’ bad foot to the rope and stomps it. Flair pulls him to the center of the ring and drops a knee on the bad leg. Flair successfully applies the figure four leg lock. Rhodes is writhing but shaking his head no. Each time he falls backward, the ref makes a 2 count.

The crowd is cheering Rhodes on as he attempts to turn it. A successful turn is made. Both men release and are slow to get up. Flair delivers chops and punches but Rhodes is fired up and returns the favor. Flair is whipped to the ropes and Rhodes delivers a clothesline. 2 Count. The ref is hit by Rhodes on the kickout. Rhodes is trying to apply the figure four but the ref is on the floor. Rhodes successfully applies the figure four. Arn Anderson makes a run in but Rhodes fights him off. Now Ole Anderson rushes the ring and attacks Rhodes from behind knocking him to the mat. Ole pulls Flair on Rhodes for the cover. The ref is delayed in getting back to the ring for the count and Rhodes kicks out at 2. Flair picks up Rhodes and positions for a body slam but Rhodes reverses into a small package. Pinfall 1-2-3.
Winner and NEW NWA World Heavyweight Champion: Dusty Rhodes (Small Package)

  • After The Bell: A variety of babyfaces rush the ring to celebrate with Rhodes and lift him up. Flair and The Andersons walk away livid and screaming at the referee.
  • EA’s Take:  Simple, effective and crowd involved would be the best way to describe this one. PWI’s Match Of The Year for 1985 is a great example to show someone why mic work and storyline will always sell better than a match based off just pure in-ring work. Nothing overly flashy in the ring, you’re not going to see anything innovative, but it’s Flair & Rhodes at their best. What more do you need?

Backstage: Tony Schiavone is backstage with Dusty Rhodes who is being showered with champagne by celebrating babyfaces. Rhodes cuts a promo celebrating the blue collar workers. Schiavone and Caudle then recap the night to close us out.

EA’s Finisher: While the card gets a bit rough after the opening contest, it absolutely picks right back up with a great mix of excellent in-ring work, tremendous physical storytelling and just straight-up overall entertainment. There’s not much in the way of long-term historical significance outside of the title wins by Magnum & Dusty, along with the introduction of some faces we’ll see in the WWF, but Starrcade ’85 is easily the most enjoyable effort of the three to date. There are still minor details, which is a bit of a recurring theme (or at least it seems like New York always did it better on the production side). It’s another case of Crockett trying to one-up McMahon by broadcasting from multiple venues, as WrestleMania 2 just a few months later would pull it off from three, all with a different time zone.

Top Three To Watch
1 – Tully Blanchard vs. Magnum T.A.
2 – Dusty Rhodes vs. Ric Flair
3 – The Koloffs vs. The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express


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Chairshot Classics: NWA Bunkhouse Stampede 1988

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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 Zbyskos 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]

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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.

Winner: Wrath

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.

Winner: Vincent

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!”

Oh boy.


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Flashback Friday: AJ Styles vs. Tyler Black (Seth Rollins) 4/28/06

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Seth Rollins vs AJ Styles

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)

AJ Styles Tyler Black Seth Rollins

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.


Feel free to follow me on Twitter @TheMarcMadison and Instagram @themarcmadison

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Feel Free to check out my blog The Wrestling News Hub Magazine including interviews with ROH top prospect tournament entrant, Curt Stallion, Sebastian Suave, Ring of Honor’s Frankie Kazarian, “All Good” Anthony Greene, ‘The Green Machine’ Mike Orlando, Josh Briggs, ROH top prospect finalist John Skyler and current rising Ring of Honor star Flip Gordon with interviews with Tyson Dux, Ivelisse and Madman Fulton (former WWE NXT superstar Sawyer Fulton) former WWE referee Jimmy Korderas and Ring of Honor commentator Ian Riccaboni.


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