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Chairshot Classics: NWA Starrcade ’87 – Chi-Town Heat

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The NWA and Jim Crockett Promotions bring us their fourth annual Starrcade from Chicago and we’re no longer on closed circuit, but pay-per-view! JCP has also just recently purchased the Universal Wresting Federation (formerly Mid-South Wrestling) from Bill Watts, so we have a number of new talents including one on our announce team. Tony Schiavone & Jim Ross welcome us to the UIC Pavilion and send us directly to the ring, where the combatants for our first match are on their way out!

Match #1: ‘Hot Stuff’ Eddie Gilbert, Rick Steiner & Larry Zbysko w/Baby Doll vs. Sting, Michael ‘P.S.’ Hayes & ‘Gorgeous’ Jimmy Garvin w/Precious
Sting and Rick Steiner will get this one started. Steiner blindsides Sting with a lariat followed by a shoulder block. On an attempted 3rd attack, Sting issues a drop toe hold and Steiner stumbles through the middle rope onto the floor. As Steiner gets to his feet, Sting launches over the top rope with a plancha. He rolls Steiner back into the ring, climbs to the top rope and lands a missile dropkick. Zbysko and Gilbert rush the ring but they’re cutoff by dropkicks from Hayes and Garvin. Sting’s team knocks Gilbert’s team into one another with simultaneous Irish whips and they knock the heels to the floor.

Steiner tries slowing things down by taking his time back to the ring. He meets Michael Hayes who goes to work on Steiner’s left arm before a quick tag to Garvin. Jimmy whips him to the rope and delivers a backbody drop. Steiner gives, and crawls to his corner to tag Zbysko. The two lock up and Garvin lands several shoulder blocks before it’s Hayes’ turn again. The Freebird lands an elbow and struts around the ring. The defeated Zbysko tags in Gilbert, but it is all Michael Hayes. Sting is tagged in, climbs to the 2nd rope and delivers an axe handle followed by a clothesline. Gilbert thwarts the offensive attack and comes back with a body slam. He makes the tag to Steiner who is greeted with an arm drag. Sting tags Garvin who goes up for a sunset flip and gets a 2 count. Back to their feet, Steiner is able to work Garvin into his corner and tag in Zbysko.

The “Living Legend” pulls the ref’s attention away so Gilbert and Steiner can take advantage of Garvin in the corner. Zybysko delivers a power slam to Garvin. 2 count. Gilbert is tagged back in. He executes an atomic drop and a back breaker before trying another pin. Another 2 count. Gilbert lifts Garvin for a body slam. He runs the ropes for an elbow drop but Garvin moves. Nonetheless, he is the first one to make a tag and Rick Steiner is back in. The Michigan shooter delivers a power slam for a near-fall. Steiner puts Garvin in a long bearhug. He tries to run Garvin into the corner unsuccessfully. Steiner makes the tag to Zbysko and Garvin is prevented from making his. The crowd is hot for Garvin to make that tag.

Zbysko applies an abdominal stretch on Garvin, but Jimmy is able to reverse out of it and give a hip toss and make that tag to Sting. He is attacked by all 3 heels but is able to get the better of them until finally Zbysko rakes his eyes. The ref is once again distracted by the heels and Gilbert gets some cheap work in before throwing Sting over the top rope. The heels regroup and Gilbert is now the legal man even though I never saw a tag. Gilbert with a vertical suplex to Sting for a near fall. He issues a knee to Sting’s head and tags in Zbysko. Zbysko attempts a vertical suplex twice but Sting reverses and both men are down. Zbysko is the first to make the tag and in comes Rick Steiner. After a few punches and kicks, Sting is locked in a sleeper hold.

There is less than 3 minutes left in the time limit. Sting is able to break the sleeper hold by running Steiner into the turnbuckle, but Sting cannot make a tag yet. Zbysko returns to the ring but Sting reverses his Irish whip to the corner and Larry is down. Near simultaneous tags are made to Hayes and Gilbert and Hayes is first to strike with a back body drop. The heels rush Hayes and the babyfaces respond. All 6 men are in the ring brawling in their respective corners. Hayes hits Zbysko with a huge running bulldog. He appears to get the 3 count, but Zbysko had his leg on the rope.

Desperate for a decision before the time limit, Hayes puts Zbykso into a sleeper, but it’s broken up by Gilbert’s axehandle. A tag is made and Rick Steiner is now the legal man. Hayes is once again in Steiner’s bear hug. Rick flips him for a belly to belly suplex and a near fall. Gilbert is tagged in but Hayes reverses his attempt at a back body drop with a small package for a 2 count as the arena announcer exclaims that there are 15 seconds left. The other 4 men rush the ring as the countdown is on. Hayes executes a sunset flip for an apparent 3 count, but the time limit is hit when the ref gets to 2.
Winners: Time Limit Draw

  • EA’s Take: Unlike any other Starrcade, this year we start off with a bang. The crowd was popping for everything the babyfaces did in this pretty basic 6-man tag team match. It’s strange that Hayes & Garvin are getting cheered since they were primarily known as being heels, but Zbysko & Gilbert make it easy to cheer the future incarnation of The Freebirds. Rick Steiner is one of the UWF stars who has arrived via the sale of the company and is not yet sporting his trademark headgear, as Scott is not around yet. Another guy who we’re used to seeing “on the other side of the fence” so to speak in regards to his heel/face status. Our biggest name in this match is of course The Stinger, who the crowd is wildly into already. This match was used by booker Dusty Rhodes as a means to showcase his young star, because The American Dream saw the writing on the wall. Sting would very soon be pushing for the World Title.

Match #2 for the UWF Heavyweight Championship: UWF Heavyweight Champion ‘Dr. Death’ Steve Williams vs. NWA Western States Champion Barry Windham
The commentators explain that these two are friends out of the ring and they shake hands as the bell rings. The two run the ropes perpendicularly before Williams hits a hip toss. Williams attempts a gorilla press slam and actually lifts his opponent several times over his head but Windham is able to reverse it, get down, run Williams to the rope and get a near fall. The two start a series of what looks like amateur wrestling and they eventually roll out onto the floor in undramatic fashion. The crowd seems restless and they boo when the two mutually agree to return to the ring. Windham with a headlock that is reversed by Williams into a side suplex.

The two lock up and Windham lands a gutwrench suplex. The two lock up and Williams has Windham in a headlock, turning it into a suplex while maintaining the hold. The headlock is held for a while and I think I can hear random people yelling “boring”. Windham is finally able to free himself and lands a shoulder block. There seems to be a little confusion, followed by the two running the ropes. Windham leaps over a ducking Williams and on the comeback, Williams attempts to leap over Windham and bashes his crotch right into Windham’s head and yelps in pain. Williams is down in what appears to be a legitimate injury.

The ref starts counting but Windham stops the count. Windham is checking on Williams and it takes a while for Williams to get up. Williams is adjusting himself in a way that tells you that bump was not a work. When the action returns, Windham breaks a head-scissors attempt. Williams is limping. Windham takes Williams down with another shoulderblock, then tries a cross body, only to fly over the top rope. Windham climbs back into the ring, but is immediately rolled up for a pinfall.
Winner and STILL UWF Heavyweight Champion: ‘Dr. Death’ Steve Williams (Roll-Up)

  • EA’sTake: After an opening match that featured some great crowd work and a lot of action, this was frankly boring for two notable stars, even before their big botch. There was absolutely some sort of miscommunication on that leapfrog spot, Williams took a legit low blow, then it just got strange with the finish coming off a surprise roll-up. The son of BlackJack Mulligan is a tremendous worker, so we know that he can do much better than what we got here. Dr. Death comes with a big reputation from the UWF, but personally I never saw his appeal. Total dud.

Match #3 is a Skywalkers Match: NWA United States Tag Team Champions The Midnight Express (Bobby Eaton & Stan Lane) w/Jim Cornette & Big Bubba vs. The Rock ‘N’ Roll Express (Ricky Morton & Robert Gibson)
There is a little bit of hesitancy to climb the ladder from both sides as the teams jaw at each other. The Midnight Express and Gibson from The Rock n’ Roll Express climb up, but before Morton can get there, he is attacked by Big Bubba. Cornette is directing traffic as always. Midnight takes advantage of the 2 on 1 and drives Gibson’s face into the grate. Big Bubba is on his way up the latter to make it 3 on 1, but before he could get there, Morton steals Cornette’s tennis racket and gives him repetitive shots.

Morton climbs up with the racket and takes a shot at Lane’s knee with it, followed by a head shot. With Gibson down, Morton attacks Eaton with the racket. As Eaton starts to get up, we see some powder in his hand that he throws in Morton’s face. Morton has a “near fall” if you will. Lane is holding Gibson for Eaton to go to work on, but Gibson moves and Lane is hit. Eaton is once again hit with the racket and a punch. The two go back and forth with some very careful work and attempted shove-offs.

A railing on the scaffold appears to break and Gibson uses it as a weapon on Eaton. Gibson goes for a double team on Lane who is slowly “slipping” from the scaffold to the lower bars. The tennis racket had fallen and Cornette throws it back up to Eaton who is back to his feet and uses it on Gibson. Lane is now underneath the scaffold and Morton is giving chase. Gibson is working over Eaton with the racket up top. Lane tries to monkey-bar his way away from Morton but instead swings a few times and falls to the ring. Cornette is incensed. It’s 2 on 1 and the Rock n Roll express make quick work of Beautiful Bobby, beating him to his stomach, Eaton grabs the bars underneath and falls.
Winners: The Rock ‘N’ Roll Express

  • After The Bell: Cornette orders Big Bubba to climb the scaffold and attack the RnR. Gibson had been climbing down one ladder but Morton is still there. Bubba is wielding the racket and the two have a long stare down. Bubba takes off his coat and Morton appears to oblige. Morton distracts Bubba by pointing off in another direction and uses the distraction to hit a low-blow and quickly descends from the ladder.
  • EA’s Take: Like I said during my last Starrcade review, I could really live without the scaffold match. You’ve got two of the better tag teams of all-time and unlike last year with The Road Warriors, all of these guys are workers. Yet, you have them in a match where they really can’t do anything. Honestly, beyond the morbid curiosity of whether or not someone is going to have a horrible accident, what’s the appeal? I get that they were trying to make this almost a signature match for The ME due to Cornette’s fear of heights, but the match doesn’t deliver. It CAN’T. The majority of offense has to be done from your knees since everyone’s forced to be so careful, plus when someone goes to “fall”, they have to do so in a manner that they end up hanging first to make it a controlled fall. Even then, we saw last year a controlled fall can still go haywire. No thanks, I’m cool with the scaffold match.

Backstage: Jimmy Garvin and Michael Hayes are interviewed by Bob Caudle. They explain that they want to challenge the winner of the NWA Tag Team Championship match and Jimmy Garvin gives a rambling (but decent) promo putting over every babyface on the card. ‘Dr. Death’ Steve Williams comes in next and speaks about the controversy in his win, comparing it to a recent Oklahoma Sooners football game, then stumbles through a promo about what he’ll do to remain champion.

Match #4 is a Unification Match: NWA Television Champion Nikita Koloff vs. UWF Television Champion Terry Taylor w/’Hot Stuff’ Eddie Gilbert
The two men are showing a lot of animosity with their stare down. The crowd is chanting for Nikita. The two lock up and Nikita powers him off twice. The two jaw in each other’s face. An aggressive lock up is broken in the corner. Another lock up and Taylor with an arm drag but Nikita is up quickly. Nikita applies a headlock and whips Taylor for a shoulder block. The ref breaks up a subsequent lockup. Taylor applies a wristlock to Nikita who is simply taunting him. Nikita reverses the wristlock and turns it into an arm drag. Nikita follows this up with some submission work on the mat. Taylor tries to escape but he is dragged right back in.

Gilbert is barking to the ref, and Nikita taunts him. Nikita continues the submission attack and gets a near fall. Taylor rolls out of the ring to slow it down. Upon his return they are back in each other’s faces and exchange slaps and punches and Taylor can’t keep up. Nikita hits a back body drop and Taylor escapes to the floor. The ref is forcing Taylor to get back into the ring. He rolls in but rolls right back out. Nikita comes over, grabs Taylor by the hair and pulls him back into the ring. Nikita pounding on the head and back of Taylor. Arm bar to the corner. Irish whip. Taylor reverses with a knee to the midsection. Taylor.

Arm bar to the corner. Irish whip. Taylor reverses with a knee to the midsection. Taylor gets a nearfall and before he knows it, he’s back in a hammerlock. Nikita works him up to a half nelson on the mat. Taylor is able to work himself to the ropes. Back to their feet, Taylor rakes Koloff’s eyes. Taylor with some shots in the corner and snapmare but he misses an elbow drop. Koloff right back to work with the arm. Both men back to their feet with the lock still on and Taylor gets to the corner. The ref breaks the hold and Taylor headbutts Koloff. Nikita is enraged and executes the Russian Hammer chokehold. Koloff is up and positioned for the Sickle, but he misses and runs into the turnbuckle instead. Koloff is dangling off the apron and Taylor kicks him to the floor.

Taylor bashes Koloff into the steel rail and runs him into the post. He then uses the post. Koloff is slow to roll into the ring and the crowd is chanting his name. Taylor distracts the ref as Gilbert takes a cheap shot. Snapmare takedown by Taylor followed by a couple knees to the head. Taylor attempts a pin and gets 2. Koloff tries to pull himself up by the ropes but Taylor is back to work on the arm. They run the ropes and Taylor attempts a sunset flip that is reversed by Koloff’s punch to the head. Taylor with a kick to the midsection. Koloff reverses Taylor’s attempted vertical suplex with one of his own. Taylor is still the first on the attack, but after a few punches, Koloff bashes his own head off the turnbuckle and turns around looking fired up. He works Taylor into the corner for 10 punches.

For some reason, Hebner breaks this up and Taylor takes advantage of the pause with an atomic drop. Taylor slowly rolls him for a pin but Koloff’s foot was on the rope. Taylor argues with the ref and Koloff almost catches him with a small package. Koloff reverses an attempted piledriver with a back body drop. Koloff pounds on him until Taylor leaves the ring and runs away. When Koloff follows him back to the ring, Taylor greets him with a knee to the midsection. The ref lectures him on this and Gilbert uses the distraction to cheapshot Koloff on the knee. Taylor stomps on the injured knee and executes the figure four.

A couple near falls when his shoulders are down. Hebner turns around to see Gilbert giving Taylor leverage and the hold is broken. Taylor and Hebner are arguing again and Gilbert tries to take another cheapshot. Instead, Gilbert is dragged up to the apron by Koloff. When Taylor attempts to hit him from behind, Koloff moves and runs into his friend knocking him off the apron. After Taylor falls back, Koloff lands the Sickle for the pinfall.
Winner and Unified NWA & UWF Television Champion: Nikita Koloff (Sickle)

  • EA’s Take: Very solid match to unify the TV Titles where the crowd was hot for Nikita, but there was still a miniscule smattering of boos for him at the beginning. The now-former UWF TV Champion Terry Taylor had left the NWA once, becoming arguably the UWF’s hottest star. It’s funny how things work out sometimes though, as he was obviously brought right back into the NWA with JCP’s purchase of the promotion. Ultimately, this would be a quick trip as the consistently solid Taylor would take off again not long after this match for WCCW.

Match #5 for the NWA World Tag Team Championships: The Road Warriors (Hawk & Animal) w/Paul Ellering vs. NWA World Tag Team Champions Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard w/James J. Dillon
Arn and Hawk start the match. Arn fights off a choke hold, but is sent to the corner by Hawk. Arn reverses with a knee and climbs the ropes. Hawk rushes to the corner and picks him up and a gorilla press. Arn rolls out of the ring and JJ Dillon wants a timeout. The ref demands Arn return to the ring. Arn cautiously approaches Hawk. Arn gets a headlock on but Hawk strengths his way out of it and pulls Arn to the mat. Arn rolls out again. Anderson slow to get in the ring and there is a standoff between Ellering and the Horseman outside.

A tag is made to Blanchard and Hawk strengths him down. Blanchard attacks but is met with a clothesline. Blanchard tries to escape the ring but Animal presses him back to the ring. Blanchard has had enough and goes down the entry way but he is chased down and brought back to the ring. Hawk with a dropkick and lateral press for a two count. Tag made to Animal. Blanchard reverses an Irish whip with a knee to the mid section. Blanchard heads for the top rope but Animal catches him for a body slam from mid air and the crowd explodes. Animal attempts a pin but it’s broken up by Anderson. Animal stares down Anderson who is getting heat from the crowd. Anderson is tagged in and he’s barking for Hawk to back up. Anderson gets the first offensive blows in, but Hawk hits a clothesline following a whip to the corner.

Anderson is back in the ring, standing in his corner and checking on his face. Anderson whispers something to Blanchard. Anderson with some kicks, but is caught in a bear hug that is quickly broken by Blanchard’s interference. Anderson and Blanchard double team Hawk, they whip him to the corner but he comes back with a double clothesline. Hawk pins the legal man but his leg is on the rope. A couple big rights from Hawk and a tag is made to Animal. They double team Blanchard into a big bear hug followed by an atomic drop. Tully is up and he tries to land some chops to no avail. Animal goes to work on Blanchard until he can take no more and from his knees tags Anderson back in.

Anderson with a headlock, the two run the ropes, and Anderson cowardly grabs the rope, rolls out of the ring and runs away. Once back in the ring, Animal with a gorilla press slam to Anderson. Blanchard is tagged back in but is looking at the same fate from Hawk who is now legal. Anderson takes a cheap shot at Animal’s knee before he can do so. Blanchard goes to work on the knee and Hawk looks for a tag. Hawk rolls out of the ring where he is double teamed, with Anderson and Blanchard using the post and a chair to the injured knee. Hawk is rolled back into the ring for a DDT from Anderson. He kicks out at 2. Blanchard is tagged, and tries a figure four but Hawk reverses with a small package. 2 count. Blanchard doing more damage to the leg before Anderson is back in. Anderson attempts a spinning leg lock but Hawk pushes him off. Anderson regroups and prevents Hawk from the tag before Blanchard is tagged in again.

This time, Tully gets the figure four locked in. After a long while, Anderson is tagged in and attempts a couple of pins only getting 2 counts. When Anderson attempts a double knee while Hawk is on his back, his groin is met by Hawks knees. This gives Hawk time to make the hot tag. Animal drop kicks Anderson and fends off the charging Blanchard. When Animal goes to the ropes for a clothesline on Anderson, he is tripped from the outside by Blanchard.

Hawk gives chase to Blanchard around the ring while Anderson tries to take advantage. Running from Hawk, Blanchard rolls back into the ring, runs across and bumps referee Tommy Young out of the ring hard. When Anderson tries to clothesline Animal over the ropes, a dazed Animal ducks and lifts Arn over instead. Inside the ring, the Road Warriors connect with the Doomsday Device. Earl Hebner is now out to the ring and makes a 3 count. The bell sounds for a Road Warrior win. The crowd goes bezerk.
Winners and NEW NWA World Tag Team Champions: The Road Warriors (Animal/Doomsday Device)

  • After The Bell: The original referee returns to the ring, vetoing Hebner’s decision. He says he saw Arn flipped over the top rope, which was grounds for automatic DQ and awards the victory to Arn and Tully.

Winners and STILL NWA Tag Team Champions: Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard (Disqualification)

  • EA’s Take: Excellent match here and we get the swerve finish as the hometown boys get screwed over. I think I would have gone the other way here, The Horsemen didn’t need any more heat and the crowd went ballistic for the pinfall. This could have been a great moment, but we know that has always been the WWE’s forte, not JCP or WCW. The air seemed to be let out of the room anyways, so if the goal was more heat on Arn & Tully, it didn’t really work that way. Historically speaking, obviously the big change here is there’s no more Minnesota Wrecking Crew. Ole, who had been kicked out of The Horsemen in early 1987 and replaced by Lex Luger, retired shortly after.

In The Arena: Jack Gregory & Magnum T.A. talk about The Road Warriors getting hosed for the Tag Titles, then run down our next two matches for the US and World Heavy weight Championships. They throw it to Bob Caudle who is standing by with the new Unified TV Champion Nikita Koloff. Nikita goes off in broken English about defeating Terry Taylor and how good he feels to be the only holder of the TV Title, but next one his agenda is the World Championship. James J. Dillon steps in next and speaks about his busy night, stating he’s relieved that Arn & Tully got justice and held onto the Tag Titles. He talks about helping Ric Flair get ready for his match tonight, but admits he’s spent more time focusing on Dusty Rhodes and getting US Champion Lex Luger ready. JJ claims he’s got the perfect athlete and the perfect plan.

Match #6 is a Steel Cage for the NWA United States Championship: Dusty Rhodes vs. NWA United States Champion Lex Luger w/James J. Dillon
The two circle the ring and lock up and tie up in the corner. They back off and restart. Luger lands some kicks and tries to run Rhodes into the cage. Rhodes blocks it and reverses with an elbow. The two circle again and Luger taunts Rhodes with his trademark flex. Rhodes laughs him off and struts to the crowd’s cheer. Another tie up in the corner, they exchange punches before Rhodes rattles off about 8 in a row before another elbow. Rhodes goes for the Weaver Lock but Luger runs to the corner to break the hold. Dillon cheers Luger on as he gets Dusty in a headlock. They run the ropes and Luger hits a shoulder block. On 2nd attempt, Dusty catches him in a sleeper – Luger runs to the ropes again to break the hold.

They lock up, Luger lands a couple punches and a snapmare. Dusty moves when Luger tries to land an elbow and Rhodes is up for an arm submission. Luger is trying to get to the ropes but is caught for a while. Rhodes delivers his patented elbow on the shoulder and continues the hold. Luger is finally able to push Rhodes to the corner, delivers a punch and whips Rhodes to the corner. Rhodes moves and Luger hits the turnbuckle hard. They are back to the mat with Rhodes working that arm. Rhodes lets up and stomps on Luger’s back before pounding on him in the corner. Luger takes advantage of the ref breaking it up with a cheap shot.

This opens up Luger for an attack that culminates in running Dusty into the cage and grinding his head against it. Luger hammers on Rhodes who is now bleeding in the corner. Again, Rhodes is thrown against the cage. Rhodes kicks out of a pinfall attempt at two. Luger pounds him in the corner, delivers a snapmare and an elbow drop. Rhodes kicks out at 2. Luger taunts with another flex. Both on their feet, Rhodes reverses a whip to the rope and hits an impressive (for his size) dropkick. But Rhodes is still too beaten down to take advantage and Luger is back on offense. He signals for his patented torture rack but he can’t get the big man all the way up. He stumbles to the corner and that’s where Rhodes lands.

The frustrated Luger grinds his face on the cage some more, as well as chokes him on the top rope before Hebner breaks it up. Luger applies a wristlock submission, but the crowd is rallying behind Rhodes who gradually rises to his feet. He gets there, but Luger knocks him right back down. JJ Dillon is looking very cocky as Luger is in control. The crowd rallies more and Rhodes is back to his feet, Luger pulls him back down by his hair. A determined Rhodes is up again. Luger works him to the corner and lays in punches and kicks which only seems to be firing Rhodes up. Dusty fights back to the delight of the crowd. He works Luger down to the mat and gets a 2 count.

Both men are back to their feet, Luger whips Rhodes to ropes, Dusty ducks a clothesline and Rhodes applies the Weaver lock. A distressed JJ Dillon knocks out Johnny Weaver and takes the key. Hebner won’t let him in. Instead, Dillon throws a chair over the cage top as Luger bashes into Hebner to break the lock. Luger reaches for the chair but as he does, Rhodes catches him bent over and lands a DDT on the chair. He gets the pin for the win. Rhodes and Weaver embrace as Rhodes exits.
Winner and NEW NWA United States Champion: Dusty Rhodes (DDT)

  • EA’s Take: The relative upstart champion surprised me here. We all know Luger was definitely more of a “look” guy than a worker, but he managed to hold his own. However, he was also led by and opposite one of the all-time greats. Dusty’s workrate wasn’t stellar in his later years, but he could still lead the right horse to water AND make him drink it. Two years into the business and less-than one year into his JCP tenure, Luger comes from Florida and was immediately thrust into The Horsemen when Ole chose to retire. He quickly took the US Title from Nikita Koloff in July, building to tonight where the seeds were planted for his departure from The Horsemen.

Match #7 is a Steel Cage for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship: ‘Nature Boy’ Ric Flair w/James J. Dillon vs. NWA World Heavyweight Champion Ronnie Garvin
The two lock up and have a clean break. Ric Flair gives a taunting “Wooo”! They exchange chops and lock up again. More exchanges of chops and slaps before Garvin hits a hip toss. Flair cowers again. Garvin with a side headlock, and whips Flair into the corner for a shoulder block. Garvin with more chops to Flair in the corner and Ric walks away with his patented fall on his face. Back body drop from Garvin followed by an armbar submission. He leads Flair around the ring and into the corner. Garvin with a series of rights to the head as the crowd counts to 10. Garvin with an Irish whip into the corner and another back body drop.

The crowd cheers as he delivers the Garvin Stomp. Flair is back up and they have a vicious exchange of punches, chops and slaps and Flair hits the mat first. Garvin tries pulling him back up but Flair hits a low blow. Flair methodically back to his feet and he lifts Garvin for an atomic drop. The crowd responds to his “Wooo!” Flair with more chops and punches in the corner followed by a kick to the midsection and a snapmare. Flair backs up and hits his patented knee to the head for a near fall. Flair uses the bottom rope to work on the left leg of Garvin. Flair intimidates Garvin as he pulls him to his feet. Flair drops Garvin on his knee and turns it immediately into the Figure Four leg lock. Garvin is struggling.

Flair uses the rope for leverage each time the ref is not looking. Garvin’s shoulders drop for a couple near falls. Garvin is trying to turn the hold and the crowd cheers. He is successful but Flair immediately grabs the ropes. Flair is up to his feet first. Flair delivers an elbow the head and a kick to the knee. Garvin is taking a lot of punishment right now. Flair tries to use the cage as a weapon but Garvin is able to block all of his attempts. Garvin reverses a whip to the ropes and instead throws Flair head first into the cage. Garvin rubs Flair’s face on the cage and he is bleeding. Garvin bites Flair’s head and the Nature Boy tries to escape by climbing over the top of the cage. Garvin stops him and both men are up on the turnbuckle.

Garvin bashes Flair several times into the top of the cage and he tumbles back to the mat. Garvin slaps Flair in the corner. Flair fights back with some kicks and goes to the top rope but Garvin is up too soon and hits him with a gorilla press slam. Garvin tries to use Flair’s move against him and puts him in the Figure Four! A couple near falls as Flair yelps in pain. Flair finally works his way to the ropes to break the hold but Garvin continues to work on Flair’s right leg. More exchanges of chops in the corner before Flair tries to throw Garvin into the cage, but again Garvin blocks it. He instead reverses it, knocks Flair to the mat and heads for the top rope. Garvin lands a cross body block from the top rope and gets a near fall. Garvin attempts a backslide, once again for a 2 count.

Flair’s head is raked against the cage some more and is slapped around on the apron. Flair tries to escape again and Garvin follows him to the top turnbuckle. Garvin bashes his head on the top of the cage and delivers a headbutt. Flair falls groin first onto the top rope and back in the ring. Garvin sets up for a sunset flip but he can’t get Flair on his back. Flair sits on Garvin’s shoulders for a pin but the ref notices he’s holding the top rope and breaks it. Garvin rolls Flair back over again for a 2 count. Garvin goes for 10 punches in the corner but Flair carries him across the ring to the other corner, hitting the ref along the way. Garvin bounces off and hits Flair with his knockout punch. Tommy Young is delayed getting over there and Flair kicks out at two. The two run the ropes, Garvin leaps up and is caught by Flair who uses the momentum to drive him into the cage. Flair pins him 1-2-3.
Winner and NEW NWA World Heavyweight Champion: Ric Flair (Cage Shot)

  • EA’s Take: I think I would have rather seen a screwed finish than that one because it didn’t make a lot of sense to me. First of all, why is Garvin jumping into Flair like he wanted to be caught in a bearhug? Secondly, the first and only time Garvin’s head touches the cage, he’s out cold? It would be sold better if Flair hadn’t been abused by the cage all match, taking probably a dozen similar shots. It’s pretty unusual seeing Garvin come in as the champion in a feud that started over Flair’s lusting after Precious, the wife of Ronnie’s kayfabe brother Jimmy. However, she wasn’t referred to as such on television. Also, Ronnie Garvin was the legit stepfather of Jimmy Garvin. What is this, Jerry Springer?!?

EA’s Finisher: JCP no longer has the roster depth to give us a 12-match card, making this a shorter show, but it seemed more star-studded. The main event is easily the weakest of all the Starrcade events to date and unless you were up on the angle, you probably didn’t care. Then again, it felt that way in ’86. At least your undercard is loaded with young talent. Again, this is vital with the ongoing battle against the WWF, which continued tonight. Vince McMahon would run the first Survivor Series on the same night as Starrcade and do better numbers, just one of many shots in the back-and-forth between the promotions. JCP does beat the Fed on adding affects for wrestler entrances like smoke and colorful lighting, but if this is supposed to be their version of WrestleMania after the WWF put 90,000-plus in the Silverdome, there’s just no comparison.

Top Three To Watch
1 – The Road Warriors vs. Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard
2 – Gilbert, Zbysko & Steiner vs. Hayes, Garvin & Sting
3 – Nikita Koloff vs. Terry Taylor


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Classic Royal Rumble

Attitude Of Aggression #275- The Big Four Project Chapter 3: Royal Rumble ’88 & WrestleMania IV

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Attitude Of Aggression #275- The Big Four Project Chapter 3: Royal Rumble ’88 & WrestleMania IV

The Attitude Of Aggression returns for Chapter 3 of The Big Four Project, a chronological analysis, review, and discussion about WWE’s Big Four PPVs/ Premium Live Events. On this Episode, Dave welcomes back the one and only PC Tunney to discuss two more immensely important events in pro wrestling history, the inaugural Royal Rumble and WrestleMania IV. The 1988 Royal Rumble was different than any other Rumble in history and not just because it was the first. Dave and Tunney break down the fascinating history of the first installment of an event that would evolve into an annual favorite for many in the WWE Universe. From there, the guys recap the surreal events that led to the end of Hulk Hogan’s 4-year reign as WWF Champion and set the stage for, arguably, the most important tournament in WWE History at WrestleMania IV. Macho Madness reached new heights that night. But was Savage the first choice of Vince McMahon to emerge from Atlantic City with the gold that night? We have the whole story for you here on Chapter 3 of The Big Four Project!

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Chairshot Classics: What I Watched #15 – AAW Defining Moment 2018

Harry covers a show that helped to continue Sami Callihan’s 2018 infamy. AAW Defining Moment should be a fun trip down memory lane!

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Apologies for the slight delay getting to this but it’s Harry here once again. And for as verbose as I can be at times, I don’t feel the need to waste any time getting to this one. This is the second part of the double shot for AAW on ‘All In’ weekend in Chicago. 

The WayBack Machine takes us to August 31st, 2018 as we once again arrive at the Logan Square Auditorium (and oh boy does that become important later) for AAW’s Defining Moment 2018.

What I Watched #15

AAW Defining Moment 2018

8/31/2018

Logan Square Auditorium in Chicago, IL

Runtime: 3:18:22 (HighSpotsWrestlingNetwork)

Commentary By: Tyler Volz (PBP) and Marty DeRosa (Color)

 

THE RESULTS

  • Match 1: Curt Stallion/Jake Something def. Ace Romero/Colt Cabana, Something pins Cabana @ 8:41
  • Match 2: Shane Strickland pins Darby Allin, top-rope Swerve Stomp @ 13:30
  • Match 3: Jessicka Havoc def. Palmer Cruise/Steve Manders, pinning Cruise with a Chokeslam @ 2:52
  • Match 4: OI4K (Dave/Jake Crist) def. Ace Austin/Brian Cage, Dave pins Austin @ 5:55
  • Match 5: AAW Heritage Title- Trevor Lee © pins DJ Z (Shiima Xion), roll-through on CBB with tights @ 13:30
  • Match 6: AR Fox/Myron Reed def. Bandido/Flamita, double cover @ 15:42
  • Match 7: Maxwell Jacob Friedman taps Marko Stunt, Salt of the Earth @ 10:41
  • Match 8: Sami Callihan pins Jimmy Jacobs, Cactus Driver on a bridged guardrail @ 17:52
  • Match 9: AAW Tag Titles- Eddie Kingston/Jeff Cobb © def. Davey Vega/Mat Fitchett, Cobb pins Fitchett @ 14:19
  • Match 10: AAW Heavyweight Title- Brody King pins ACH ©, All Seeing Eye (Whiplash) @ 22:46

 

THE BREAKDOWN

Curt Stallion/Jake Something vs. Ace Romero/Colt Cabana

*The match was decent but nothing special. A pretty big win for Something at the end with the three count over Cabana, who has a storied past in Chicago and was one of the biggest names in independent wrestling. That said, I personally don’t love the flukish nature that Something pins Cabana, as I think Something could have used a defining pinfall to really give him a rub going forward. 

Cabana usually makes for a fun watch and I’ve grown to enjoy Ace Romero the more I see him (he especially stands out for Limitless, which I hope to get to one day soon). Jake Something is a huge star in the making and you can see it even early in the run of AAW that he has. Stallion is what Stallion is. Solid opener, but nothing you’ll remember post show. (**½)

Darby Allin vs. Shane Strickland

*Showstealer, plain and simple. Strickland had been with AAW for a while but to the best of my memory, it was more often in a tag team with Keith Lee (funny how that works out with 2022 eyes on it, as Swerve and Keith are the current AEW tag champions at the time of writing). I do believe this is only Darby’s second match in AAW (the prior being a five-ish minute loss to Brody King). Both guys are huge names now and with efforts like this, it’s easy to see how. Darby tries to keep pace with Swerve and is able to do so for a good portion of the contest until Swerve finds that next gear down the stretch and puts Allin down with the Swerve Stomp to a massive (deserved) ovation from the crowd. (****)

Jessicka Havok vs. Palmer Cruise/Steve Manders

*I dislike handicap matches in general. However, unlike certain other writers for this site, I don’t mind intergender wrestling. But the suspension of disbelief gets lost here when you have two dudes the size of Cruise and Manders struggling with Jessicka Havok, who should realistically not being coming in at 100% after taking the Ganso Bomb from Brody King through the chairs the night before. I won’t rate the match due to the Larry Csonka (RIP) Rule of not rating anything shorter than three minutes, but I’m calling this a miss regardless. (X)

OI4K (Dave/Jake Crist) vs. Ace Austin/Brian Cage

*The Brothers Crist come out to ringside to stand next to Havok after said match and call out Brody King and Jimmy Jacobs. They get one of those two men as Jacobs makes his way out, but informs Dave and Jake that neither he nor Brody will be facing them due to having prior obligations, but he did find the perfect opponents for OI4K. As for the opponent, Cage does make for a good size fill-in for Brody King. Ace Austin is a OI4K trainee that hadn’t quite made a name for himself at the time but has since turned into a pretty good wrestler, having just competed for NJPW in Best of the Super Jr’s as well as being Impact Wrestling’s X Division champion for a while.

The match itself was not memorable at all. I will admit to typing this review on a bit of a delay and other than the finish (a Tiger Driver ‘98 by Dave to Austin), I don’t remember anything that happened during the course of the contest. Not the best impression for these four men to leave. (**)

AAW Heritage Title- Trevor Lee © vs. DJ Z

*I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…I like DJ Z. I liked him more under his previous identity, but this was him using the Impact Wrestling name for more notoriety with the casual fan. That being said, despite DJZ winning a three way relatively quickly the night before while Trevor was in a war with Ace Romero, I never felt the title was in jeopardy here. For as much as I like DJZ’s run with AAW, this misfortune of his injury just so happened to coincide with Trevor Lee becoming one of the hottest acts on the undercard and there wasn’t anything in the build up to the rematch (despite some good promo work from Z) that made me think that the strap was switching here. 

As for the match itself, they have really good chemistry together and that isn’t a surprise given how many of the same promotions they were working for at the time as well as their history in AAW up to this point. I do think this match does a nice job of setting the stage for a return match as it is DJZ’s offensive attack at the end of the contest that gets reversed into the cradle (with a handful of tights) for the finish. The nature of the victory leads me to believe that the story with these two isn’t over quite yet. (***½)

AR Fox/Myron Reed vs. Bandido/Flamita

*This was similar to the main event the night before, but didn’t have the same crowd investment that match did. Bandido and Flamita once again shine here and it is easy to see why they become semi-regulars in AAW after this weekend. AR Fox and Myron Reed (Team Firefox, as they were referred to by Sarah Shockey) get a massive victory with a double pinfall following stereo 450 splashes. This sets up Fox and Reed for a title match against the winners of WRSTLING vs. Besties later in the night, but honestly, I think that Bandido/Flamita was the better pairing to have go forward to a title shot. Firefox had previously unsuccessfully challenged for the tag belts and if I’m being fully honest, I prefer AR Fox as a singles wrestler over being in a tag team. Good match, but I think the wrong team wins. (***½)

Maxwell Jacob Friedman vs. Marko Stunt

*Marko had just made a name for himself at GCW’s Lost in New York (a show I have watched) and this was a way for him to break out back in his Midwest home. MJF has been on a hot streak point up to this point (believe he is the current CZW Heavyweight champion, though I don’t think he ever actually defends that title) and MJF would make himself a known commodity the next night opening the ‘All In’ PPV against Matt Cross (in a losing effort)

Easy story to tell with MJF taking the much smaller Stunt lightly and Marko making him pay for it. It is unfortunate that more people didn’t get to see what Stunt is capable of, because his run in the indie scene before he went to AEW was quite special to watch due to his ability to connect with a crowd (no different here). The finish sees MJF take advantage of the arm work that he did early in match and after Marko escapes a fujiwara armbar, MJF is able to catch Marko in ‘Salt of the Earth’, a wakigatame (Marko on stomach as MJF applies a cross-armbreaker) for the the tapout. Very good work and Marko does really well for himself in his debut with another high end US Independent. (***)

Jimmy Jacobs vs. Sami Callihan

*Ooooh, boy. A lot to unwrap with this one. Let’s get the match first, because the drama that it creates leads to the fallout that has to be discussed. It is honestly a pretty standard Sami brawl for the time frame. PWG used to have what was known as the “Sami Sprint”…by which it would be Callihan vs. Opponent and the match would run anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes of hard hitting back and forth action with little in terms of a cohesive story or selling. Pretty much a ‘can you top this?’ kind of situation. This feels like that in a sense because the match features both Sami and Jimmy going into their well of tricks (the crowd brawling, the spike, the guardrail that gets used in the finish) while maintaining the crowd reaction from the prior night’s tag match. Fittingly, the finish is visually impressive as Callihan hits the ‘Cactus Driver’ (pulling piledriver) on a guardrail bridged across two metal folding chairs to secure the three count. (***½)

THE INCIDENT

The bigger story coming out of this is that this match almost costs AAW the Logan Square Auditorium and almost ends even more disastrously personally for Callihan. At one point, Callihan and Jacobs are brawling over by the stage in the venue (traditionally used for concerts) where Callihan buries Jacobs under a portion of the stage. Callihan then starts winging metal sitting chairs (not the standard folding ones you see in most companies because the four legged dinner table type chairs) at Jacobs. A voice comes over the house mic telling Callihan to stop, causing a loud visceral boo from the crowd. Callihan more or less tells said voice to “fuck himself” and hurls more chairs at Jacobs. 

At first, I thought it was Danny Daniels telling Callihan to stop, but it turns out it was actually building management. This becomes important when after the three count goes down, building security surrounds the ring to escort Callihan out of the building as they were pissed at Sami for throwing chairs that the venue used for other events. As I’ve heard the story, Callihan thinks this is part of a storyline and begins to push the security guys until one of them shows Callihan that he is carrying a real pistol and will use it if necessary. Things break down from there with the rest of OI4K getting involved and eventually Sami is escorted to the back (and presumably out of the building).

How much of this is real? How much of this is scripted? How much of this was sensationalized for additional attention? I don’t have the answers for those questions. I do know that cooler heads would prevail and AAW was able to continue running at LSA, however I feel the truth lies somewhere in the middle. It may have been a planned altercation to play off the recklessness of Callihan. It may have been a real reaction from the building to what they perceived as damage to personal property. The old axiom in wrestling is “believe none of what you hear and half of what you see”. Overall, it makes for a great story with a relatively happy ending all considered. But man does it take the wind of the crowd for quite a while. And I will have to check out the follow up AAW shows to see what the fallout truly is.

AAW Tag Titles- Eddie Kingston/Jeff Cobb © vs. Davey Vega/Mat Fitchett

*Trevor Lee’s promo before the match is not one I can do justice. I recommend the show in general, but Trevor’s asshole smarmy heel persona in AAW (Impact Superstar Trevor Lee) is one of the best things going in the company.

Match is good but you’d have to expect that from the four men involved. Kingston and Cobb work surprisingly well as a team and despite being on separate pages for most of the bout, Vega and Fitchett do link up for a few double teams (corner enzuigiri/Kippou kick combo being standout among them) to continue to prove why they are one of the best tag teams in pro wrestling (still are to this day, though not known as the Besties in the World anymore). The finish sees the final stab from Vega to Fitchett as Vega chooses to take Scarlett to the back after she gets knocked off the apron, leaving Fitchett alone to take a one-two combo of the Backfist to the Future from Kingston that staggers him into a Tour of the Islands from Cobb to finish the contest. The ring work is on point, the story is very well told and you can hear the disappointment from the crowd when Vega chooses the hussy over his long-time tag partner. (****)

AAW Heavyweight Title- ACH © vs. Brody King

*Unfortunately, something gets lost during the course of this contest through no direct fault of the participants. As I understand it, Brody King got concussed relatively early in the bout. Credit to ACH for keeping things together as well as he did, but I would be curious to see what they are capable of with both competitors at 100% capacity for the full duration of the match.

As for the match, it does tell a pretty good story. ACH comes in still pretty beat up from the match with Jeff Cobb the night before. However, ACH lets his pride (or perhaps his ego) get the better of him as he once again tries to hang step for step, strike for strike and move for move with a man much bigger than he is. It ends up coming back to bite him at the end as a distraction from Jimmy Jacobs allows Brody King to take a distracted ACH up into the All Seeing Eye (fireman’s carry into a Michinoku Driver) for the three count to crown a new champion. Slightly cheap on the distraction ending but does help get Jimmy some of the heat he lost earlier in the evening back after dropping the contest to Callihan. (***½)

THE FINAL REACTION

Overall, a better show then the day before but not without a couple flaws. Obviously, the big story to come out of this show would be the fact that AAW almost lost Logan Square Auditorium due to the issues in the Callihan-Jacobs match. Thankfully, those would be resolved and to my knowledge, AAW is still running there. But it gets awfully hairy there for a few.

The highs: two four star matches on this show and they come in completely different type contests. Eddie Kingston continues his march of dominance in AAW and cuts one hell of a promo at the end of the show to run down how ACH let him down by losing the title. Marko Stunt has a fun debut and quickly gets the crowd behind him. The lows: that handicap match helped no one and the tag match that followed wasn’t much better. The main event isn’t what it could have been either, but that’s a case of shit happens with the early concussion to King. I will also say that I thought Sarah Shockey did a better job on color commentary yesterday then Marty DeRosa does here.

We’ll call it an 8 overall. As I said, it is a better top to bottom show then Destination Chicago is. And while high on the guest stars (for obvious reasons), you also get a really good look at what the overall AAW roster is all about too. I look forward to coming back to AAW down the road (ironically, upcoming shows are a double shot as well for the ‘Jim Lynam Memorial’ tournament), but I do want to mix in some other odds and ends before I do so.

Best Match/Moment: Shane Strickland vs. Darby Allin

Worst Match/Moment: The Havok handicap. Especially when you consider what Steve Manders would come to mean for AAW, it’s a really inauspicious debut.

Overall Show Score: 8/10

MVP: Eddie Kingston. The key part of a match that tied for best match of the night honors and absolutely shows why he is viewed the way he is when it comes to talking with an amazing promo to close out the show.

 

THE SIGNOFF

So, where does ‘What I Watched’ go from here? I go on vacation in about a week’s time and will be gone for most of August. I spoke to Andrew and what I hope to do is reformat the ‘All In’ report that I did to the new style so you guys have something to tide you over.  As for where I go when I get back from vacation…well, the Peacock WWE Network watch-through that I am working on has reached a show that I’m not sure I’ve ever seen (and if I have, it has been quite a while). Therefore, ‘What I Watched’ #16 will be ECW’s Guilty as Charged 1999 to set the tone for a year where all hell breaks loose in two of the three major promotions. Hopefully, you guys enjoy the ‘All In’ redo to hold you over and I’ll be back later in August with Guilty as Charged. I appreciate everyone who has been checking these out and if you’ve missed any, feel free to click on my name at the top of the article to check out my archive. Thanks for reading.


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