Mega Powers Running Wild!

The legendary 'Macho man' Randy Savage teams up with 'The Immortal' Hulk Hogan to take on Ted Dibiase and Andre The Giant in the first ever WWF Summerslam!

Shawn Micahels vs. Mankind

The Heartbreak Kid defends the WWF Championship against Mankind in a thrilling main event at WWF In Your House: Mind Games.

The Birth of the nWo

From Hulk Hogan's shocking turn at WCW Bash at the Beach 1996 to the addition of Ted Dibiase, THe Giant Syxx and more, relive the very beginning of the New World Order.

Austin 3:16 Says I Just Kicked Your Ass

It's one of the most famous promos of all time; Stone Cold Steve Austin wins the 1996 King of The Ring and serves notice on all the WWF superstars. Check it out in our complete review

Wrestlemania 12 Review

The boyhood dream comes true as Shawn Michaels battles champion Bret 'The Hitman' Hart in a classic 1-hour iron man match. Plus, Diesel vs. Undertaker and more.

WCW Fall Brawl 1996 Review

Was Sting in cahoots with the New World Order? Would Lex Luger be able to get along with the Four Horsemen as they faced the nWo in War Games? Find out in this review

Showing posts with label Ivan Koloff. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ivan Koloff. Show all posts

Thursday, 8 April 2021

PPV REVIEW: WCW Starrcade 1988 - True Gritt

WCW / NWA Starrcade 1988 - True Gritt - Event Poster
December 26, 1988 
Norfolk Scope, Norfolk, Virginia

It had been five long years since Ric Flair had defeated Harley Race in the main event of the first ever Starccade back in 1983. 

That event had been historically important for being the first ever Starrcade event, but this, Starrcade 1988: True Gritt was equally as important for being the first Starrcade promoted under the WCW banner.

Once again, Flair was in the main event competing for the title (as he had been for all of the previous installments) only this time, his opponent was The Total Package Lex Luger.

Flair and Luger had a number of memorable matches during the late 80s/early 90s, but this, this match here tonight, is widely regarded as the best of the bunch. 

With that being said then, let's not waste any more time as we head down to Norfolk, Virginia for a little True Gritt.







Welcome to Starrcade: True Gritt

WCW / NWA Starrcade 1988 - True Gritt - Tony Schiavone & Magnum TA - The Mustache Men Ride Again!
We began tonight’s event with a typically 80s-style introduction featuring clips of tonight’s stars with sound bites of various wrestlers talking about their big feuds.

Ric Flair, for example, wanted Lex Luger to shut his mouth here tonight at Starrcade...Wooo!

We then went live to the arena where fans were hyped to see the National Wrestling Alliance even though this was technically now a World Championship Wrestling show.

Tony ‘The Mustache’ Schiavone then welcomed us to the show and introduced his broadcast partner for the evening, Magnum T.A.

Magnum talked about how happy he was to be part of the event even though he couldn’t compete while Tony reminded us that ‘all five NWA titles’ would be decided on the show.

From there, we went to commentators Jim Ross and Bob Caudle who were, to quote Ross, ‘pumped’ for the action.

National Wrestling Alliance United States Tag Team Championship
NWA US Tag Team Champions The Fantastics (Tommy Rogers & Bobby Fulton) vs. The ‘Games Master’ Kevin Sullivan & Dr. Death Steve Williams

WCW / NWA Starrcade 1988 - True Gritt - Kevin Sullivan & Dr. Death vs. The Fantastics
Built as a battle of speed (The Fantastics) versus power (Steve Williams & Kevin Sullivan), this lengthy tag team match started well, with Tommy Rogers and Bobby Fulton having the full support of the crowd behind them.

The longer it went on though (and it did go on for ages), the more it started to drag and the more this fan in particular started to lose interest.

Sullivan snd Williams cut Rogers off from his corner and worked him over for a while until the inevitable hot tag that saw the crowds come alive.

Admittedly, this was the most exciting part of the match, though unfortunately for The Fantastics, a spirited comeback wasn’t enough.

Sullivan and Williams overpowered their opponents and, when Williams made the cover, referee Teddy Long awardees them the match despite Rogers kicking out at the last possible moment.
Your Winners and new United States Tag Team Champions: Steve Williams & Kevin Sullivan

Post match, the obligatory match recap went down before Schiavone and Magnum T.A ran down the rest of tonight’s card.

The Original Midnight Express (Dennis Condrey & Randy Rose w/ Paul E. Dangerously) vs. The Midnight Express (Sweet Stan Lane & Beautiful Bobby Eaton w/ Jim Cornette)

WCW / NWA Starrcade 1988 - True Gritt - Jim Cornette
For those keeping track at home, this was the first appearance of Paul E. Dangerously on an NWA/WCW PPV.

The future ECW leader has arrived in the NWA with the original Midnight Express of Loverboy Dennis Condrey and Ravishing Randy Rose, immediately going after the then-current version of the team in Sweet Stan Lane, Beautiful Bobby Eaton and their manager, Jim Cornette.

That had basically turned Cornette’s side into babyfaces who were out tonight to prove that they were the better incarnation of the Midnight Express.

This was a solid and entertaining match though again it was very long. That may not be a bad thing in itself, but you do have to wonder who was sat backstage saying ‘you know what we need immediately after a long, 20-minute tag match? Another long, 20-minute tag match!’

To be fair, this was the better of the two, with the outside shenanigans of Jim Cornette (who had grown an all-new sense of confidence and bravado since turning face) and Paul E. adding to the fun.

Sweet Stan and Beautiful Bobby dominated the first portion of the match until Eaton got beaten up by the original Midnights for a while.

This continued for ages until finally, Dennis Condrey blasted his rival over the head with Dangerously’s epic 80’s cellphone and made the cover.

Teddy Long saw the phone and decided he was having none of it.

In the resulting argument, Lane and Eaton got the better of their rivals and won the match.
Your Winners: The Midnight Express (Jim Cornette’s version)

Afterwards, Condrey, Rose, and Dangerously beat up on their enemies until Eaton recovered and started swinging Cornette’s tennis racket like he was Pete Sampras.

The Varsity Club Celebrate

Backstage, The Varsity Club gloated to Magnum TA about how they’d traded a ‘moron’ like Rick Steiner for the superior Dr. Death Steve Williams and this has led them to gold tonight.

Williams and Sullivan boasted about their big win earlier before Mike Rotunda promised to finish off Steiner once and for all when they met for the TV title later on in the broadcast.

The Russian Assassins (Russian Assassin #1 & Russian Assassin #2 w/ Paul Jones) vs. Ivan Koloff & The Junkyard Dog

WCW / NWA Starrcade 1988 - True Gritt - Teddy Long checks over The Russian Assassins
If the Assassins lose, they must unmask and Paul Jones must retire.

Though the crowd were clearly into Junkyard Dog and the somewhat recently turned Ivan Koloff, there’s no escaping the fact that this was easily the worst match on the card so far.

OK, so it wasn’t awful or anything, but it was sloppy in parts and fairly uninspiring.

The end came when JYD hit one of the Assassins with an atomic drop. The masked man wandered right into a Russian Sickle from Koloff and was covered for the pin, but Paul Jones slipped an International Object inside the other Assassin’s mask. The man with the loaded mask then broke up the cover by head butting the back of Koloff’s noggin and that was that.
Your Winners: The Assassins

As a shark cage was slowly lowered in readiness for our next contest, Jim Ross and Bob Caudle recapped all the action thus far.

National Wrestling Alliance World Television Championship
NWA World Television Champion Mike Rotunda (w/ Kevin Sullivan) vs. Rick Steiner

WCW / NWA Starrcade 1988 - True Gritt - Mike Rotunda vs. Rick Steiner
Kevin Sullivan must be suspended in a shark cage

Mike Rotunda had held the TV title most of 1988, capturing the gold way back in January of that year, but tonight his reign would come to an end after a long and reasonably good match with his former friend turned down, Rick Steiner.

Early on, announcer Jim Ross suggested that the best way for Rotunda to win was to take advantage of Steiner’s less than stellar intellect and confuse him. Although Rotunda chose not to take such an approach, confusion would play a role in the finish.

Steiner planted his opponent with a suplex only for Dr. Death (who had appeared at ringside) to ring the bell, confusing both Steiner and Rotunda.

Referee Tommy Young came out to confer with Teddy Long about what had actually happened, and in the resulting confusion, Steiner got the better of his nemesis and pinned him to bring his year-long reign to a close.

There will no doubt be people watching today who dislike this match, but I think as long as you don’t watch it through the filter of the modern product, it was a good effort.
Your Winner and new NWA World Television Champion: Rick Steiner

After more post-match analysis from Magnum and Tony, it was onto our next title match.

National Wrestling Alliance United States Championship
NWA US Champion Barry Windham (w/ James J. Dillon) vs. Bam Bam Bigelow (w/ Sir Oliver Humperdink)

WCW / NWA Starrcade 1988 - True Gritt - Bam Bam Bigelow faced Barry Windham
After the amateur influence of our previous match we got a change of pace next as Bam Bam Bigelow took on Barry Windham in a battle of the big men.

Make no mistake about it though, this was more than your average power battle. It was a hot match with a lovely crowd and two men who were more agile and talented than their large stature would have you believe.

Bigelow was excellent here as the fan favourite, but reigning champion Windham was no slouch either. Together, they worked hard to deliver a great match that was made all the more special thanks to Jim Ross’ emotionally-charged commentary.

After over 15 minutes, both men toppled to the outside and the match was declared over when Windham was the only man to beat the ten count.
Your Winner via count out and still US Champion: Barry Windham

Ok, so it was a disappointing finish, but everything before that was good stuff indeed.

Every Dog Has His Day

Out in the back, Rick Steiner played up his ‘I’m a bit slow’ gimmick in an interview with Magnum TA.

Every dog has his day, said Steiner, and today was the day for the Dog Faced Gremlin.

National Wrestling Alliance World Tag Team Championship
NWA Tag Team Champions The Road Warriors (Road Warrior Hawk & Road Warrior Animal w/ Paul Ellering) vs. Sting & Dusty Rhodes

WCW / NWA Starrcade 1988 - True Gritt - Road Warrior Animal breaks Dusty Rhodes' face
The Road Warriors
were technically playing the roles of heels here after attacking both Dusty Rhodes and Sting on WCW programming but it wasn’t really all that effective as they still had an audible fan base in the crowd.

The match was intense and as hard-hitting as you might expect any match involving Hawk & Animal to be, but it wasn’t anything special.

If you’re a fan of the Road Warriors and their demolish-everything approach to pro wrestling then you’ll probably like this one, otherwise you’re not going to miss much here.

The end came when Sting had Animal pinned only for Paul Ellering to break up the fall, leading to a disqualification.
Your Winners via DQ: Sting & Dusty Rhodes (Road Warriors retain)

Finally, after a few more words from Schiavone and Magnum T.A, it was onto our main event.

National Wrestling Alliance World Heavyweight Championship
NWA World Heavyweight Champion Ric Flair (w/ James J. Dillon) vs. Lex Luger

WCW / NWA Starrcade 1988 - True Gritt - Ric Flair and JJ Dillon
If Ric Flair gets disqualified he loss the title

If you’d told me once upon a time ago that I’d happily sit through a 30 minute Lex Luger match and actually enjoy it, I would have called you crazy. Yet here we are, 30 minutes after the opening bell rung on the Starrcade ‘88 main event and I have to admit, I enjoyed every moment of it.

Sure, you could argue that this was basically every Ric Flair main event you’ve ever seen, and you’d have a valid point, but this was still good enough to be completely enthralling and was made all the more impressive that there was nary a rest hold in sight.

After coming incredibly close to capturing the gold on numerous occasions, Lex Luger’s legs gave out from under him (the result of much Flair offence). The champ landed on top of the challenger and , using the ropes for leverage, scored the cover, the count, and the fall.
Your Winner and Still World Heavyweight Champion: Ric Flair

Afterwards, Luger argued with Tommy Young about Flair having his foot on the ropes but the official insisted that since he hadn’t seen it, there was little he could do about it.

Lex Luger is Done

Finally, we went backstage where Ric Flair gave an impassioned interview to Magnum T.A in which he claimed that Lex Luger was done and wouldn’t get another title shot. This would obviously prove to be nonsense, as The Total Package would be challenging Flair for years to come.

All that was left then was for the announcers to recap tonight’s action and put over a then-unnamed pay per view that was set to take place in February 1989.

That PPV would turn out to be the Chi-Town Rumble ‘89 which we’ll review in a few weeks here on Retro Pro Wrestling.







Starrcade ‘88: True Gritt was a pay per view which ran just shy of three hours and yet featured just seven matches, meaning each one got significant time.

Each one was different in its own right and each one had something to enjoy about it, with only the Road Warriors vs. Sting & Dusty Rhodes match failing to impress this fan.

Highlight of the night went to Flair and Luger, though if you like old school pro wrestling you should find much to enjoy about this one.

Thursday, 14 January 2021

PPV REVIEW: NWA Bunkhouse Stampede 1988

NWA Bunkhouse Stampede 1988 Event Review - Event Poster
January 24, 1988,
Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Uniondale, New York

Dusty Rhodes has an interesting reputation as a booker and a creative force in the world of professional wrestling.

On the one hand, he created War Games and came up with concepts like the Lethal Lottery which, you have to admit, was at least interesting.

On the other hand, he's the guy who thought The Shockmaster was a good idea, had a tendency to vanity-book himself into high profiles spots, and gave name to the much over-used Dusty Finish. 

The American Dream also came up with this:

The Bunkhouse Stampede:

A "street fight" style battle royal where the wrestlers wore "bunkhouse gear" (jeans, t-shirts, and boots, basically) and could use weapons to beat up their opponents with.

Over the course of several weeks, several bunkhouse stampede matches were held, with the winners all converging on Uniondale, New York to compete in tonight's final.

Of course, having created the concept, Dusty had won every single one of the past three Bunkhouse Stampede finals.

Would he win this one?

More importantly, would this be a War Games or a Shockmaster deal?







Let's go to New York to find out.

Welcome to the Bunkhouse Stampede Finals

NWA Bunkhouse Stampede 1988 Event Review - Jim Ross & Bob Caudle called the action
There was no fancy intro video for tonight’s show. Instead, the most basic of introductory graphics faded to the arrival of NWA Television Champion Nikita Koloff making his way to the ring.

The show then cut to our announcers for the evening, Bob Caudle and Jim Ross. The duo ran down tonight’s card before sending it to our ring announcer for the evening, the man with the most rockin’ 80s moustache-and-mullet combo in history, Tony Schiavone.

National Wrestling Alliance World Television Championship
NWA TV Champion Nikita Koloff vs. NWA US Tag Team Champion Beautiful Bobby Eaton (w/ Jim Cornette)

NWA Bunkhouse Stampede 1988 Event Review - Jim Cornette cheered on Bobby Eaton in a TV title match against Nikita Koloff
This could have been a great match if it didn’t start getting really stupid towards the finish.

The majority of the contest saw Bobby Eaton grind the champion into the mat and try and force him to submit to a standard armbar while Jim Cornette trash-talked The Russian Nightmare from a safe distance on the outside.

It was mostly fun in an old-school kind of way, but as the clock began counting down, you couldn’t help but feel as though Eaton was a bit of a dumb ass for not trying a different strategy to win.

Despite the fact that Koloff hadn’t submitted for the first 15 minutes of the match, the challenger continued to use the same hold for the last five when anyone with any common sense might have tried more desperate and decisive measures to capture the title.

Instead, he kept doing the same thing until Koloff made a last-minute comeback and battered his rival from pillar to post until the time ran out.
Time-Limit Draw

Afterwards, Eaton‘s partner, Sweet Stan Lane, came down to help him beat up Koloff while Cornette held back the referee.

Universal Wrestling Federation Western States Heritage Championship
UWF Western States Heritage Champion Barry Windham vs. Larry Zybysko (w/ Baby Doll)

NWA Bunkhouse Stampede 1988 Event Review - Larry Zybysko and Barry Windham battled for the UWF Western States Herritage Championship
This was a lot of fun.

Barry Windham and Larry Zybysko played their parts well, creating a feeling that they really hated each other which helped make every move and every blow more meaningful.

The action itself was solid. The duo battled inside and outside of the ring with an intensity and urgency that the earlier match had lacked and which made the whole thing that much more enjoyable.

After the better part of 20 minutes, the referee took a tumble, allowing Zybysko to knock Windham out with Baby Doll’s shoe.

One three count later and Zybysko was the new champion.
Your Winner and New UWF Western States Heritage Champion: Larry Zybysko

Not only was Larry our new champion, but he was also our last champion. The Living Legend would hold on to the gold until he left for the AWA the following year, leaving the Western States Heritage Championship to fade away, practically unnoticed.

National Wrestling Alliance World Heavyweight Championship
NWA World Heavyweight Champion Nature Boy Ric Flair (w/ J.J. Dillon) vs. Road Warrior Hawk (w/ Paul Ellering)

NWA Bunkhouse Stampede 1988 Event Review - Ric Flair looks concerned as he defends the NWA world title against Road Warrior Hawk
This was a decent match that suffered due to the fact that you never really believed that Road Warrior Hawk had any chance of winning the title.

Since the outcome was something of a foregone conclusion, it was hard to get invested in the match.

Still, to be fair to them, both men did at least put a fair amount of effort in, trading the advantage several times as Ric Flair pit his wits and cunning against Hawk’s brute power.

The end came when Flair blasted Hawk with a chair right in front of the referee.
Your Winner via DQ: Road Warrior Hawk (Ric Flair retains the title)

As the ring crew set up the cage for our main event, Jim Ross and Bob Caudle ran through the show credits and reminded us how you win the bunkhouse stampede match

Throw your opponent over the top of the cage or through the door.

Right on, let’s do this:

Bunkhouse Stampede Final
NWA US Champion Dusty Rhodes vs. NWA Tag Team Champion Tully Blanchard vs. Ivan Koloff vs. The Warlord vs. NWA Tag Team Champion Arn Anderson vs. Lex Luger vs. The Barbarian vs. Road Warrior Animal

NWA Bunkhouse Stampede 1988 Event Review - Paul Ellering leads Road Warrior Animal into battle in the Bunkhouse Stampede cage match battle royal
Yes, you read those rules right. This was basically a battle royal cage match in which you had to throw people out of the cage to lose.

It was a dumb concept because there was really no way to make it look believable. If you wanted to throw your opponent over the top of the cage, he first had to voluntarily climb to the top which, of course, he had no incentive to do.

It didn’t help either that the action wasn’t that interesting. It was one of those ‘come as you are’ affairs that Dusty Rhodes loved so much when everybody would dress in jeans, cowboy boots and sleeveless t-shirts, presumedly to add a sense of realism to the whole thing.

That was about the only thing worth mentioning here. The whole thing was just one big slow, sluggish, and bloody brawl. If you like that kind of thing then sure, then you might enjoy this match, but I doubt it.

After what felt like forever, Dusty Rhodes sent The Barbarian crashing over the top of the cage and won the Bunkhouse Stampede final for a third time.

Honestly, anyone would think he was booking the whole thing or something.
Your Winner: Dusty Rhodes

Post-match, Dusty celebrated with his cheque for ‘half a million dollars’ and an enormous boot that I assume was the Bunkhouse Stampede trophy.







Bunkhouse Stampede 1988 was not a show anybody should be in a hurry to track down.

Though this writer enjoyed the opening two matches, the fact that Bobby Eaton spent the better part of 20 minutes holding Nikita Koloff in the same hold means that the whole thing has more than its fair share of critics.

Likewise, the Zybysko/Windham bout wasn’t to everyone’s tastes, but personally, I enjoyed it much more than the underwhelming world heavyweight championship match and the bland and bizarre bunkhouse cage match.



Other 1988 events:
Be the first to catch the latest Retro Pro Wrestling reviews by following on Facebook or Twitter @RetroPWrestling.

Thursday, 17 December 2020

EVENT REVIEW: NWA Starrcade 1986 - The Night of the Skywalkers

NWA Starrcade 1986 (The Skywalkers) - VHS cover
November 27, 1986 
Greensboro Coliseum Complex, Greensboro, North Carolina 
Omni Coliseum in Atlanta, Georgia

For the second year in a row, the National Wrestling Alliance's marquee event of the year came to us live from two different venues in Greensboro and Atlanta.

I thought I'd read somewhere that there was also a Kansas portion to this show, though that seems not to have been the case.

Thank goodness too, because with just the two venues, Starrcade 1986 ran to four hours long, setting a record for the longest Starrcade in history that would remain unbroken by the time of the last event in 2000.

Still, unlike the four-hour chore that would be Wrestlemania 4, this event proved that having a super-long event didn't have to mean compromising on quality entertainment.

Don't believe me? Here's what went down on the Night of the Skywalkers.







Welcome to The Night of the Sky Walkers

NWA Starrcade 1986 (The Skywalkers) - Tony "Good Mustache" Schiavone & Rick Stewart
Tonight was the first Starrcade to feature anything like a proper intro. While all of the previous shows had started with the action already in the ring, Starrcade ‘86 went full-on 80s with a seizure-inducing light show and rocking guitar riff.

This super cool intro gave way to an awesome shot of the arena with the scaffold for tonight’s main event looking large over the ring.

As fired up as ever, ring announcer Tom Miller played MC at the Greensboro venue, welcoming us to the show and inviting us to stand for the playing of the National Anthem before sending it over to Atlanta where Tony Schiavone and his glorious mustache were standing by with fellow commentator, Rick Stewart.

The Atlanta commentators were psyched about the big scaffold match while their counterparts in Greensboro -Johnny Weaver and Bob Caudle- were more interested in the rest of the card, starting with our opening match.

Tim Horner & Nelson Royal vs. The Kernodle Brothers (Don & Rocky Kernodle)

NWA Starrcade 1986 (The Skywalkers) - Nelson Royal puts a hurting on Don Kernodle
Honestly, I’m happy to see Don Kernodle competing on this card. The guy had appeared at every Starrcade event so far yet this was his first time actually wrestling at the NWA’s marquee event.

Tonight, he teamed with his brother Rocky to face Nelson Royal and future Smoky Mountain Wrestling star, Tim Horner.

Though it wasn’t the longest match in the world, it was pretty good and featured some quality wrestling and fast-paced action from bell-to-bell.

After a solid six-or-so minutes, Horner got the roll-up on Rocky Kernodle and This one was over.
Your Winners: Tim Horner & Nelson Royal

Moving on...

Gorgeous Jimmy Garvin (w/ Precious) vs. Brad Armstrong

NWA Starrcade 1986 (The Skywalkers) - Jimmy Garvin hurts Brad ArmstrongThis was another great match.

Brad Armstrong spent so much time floundering in the lower echelons of the card during his time on the main stage that it’s easy to forget what a talented performer he really was. Combined with Jimmy Garvin’s unquestionable charisma and flamboyance, it made for an entertaining contest that told a simple story.

As the aggressor, Garvin continually looked to wear down Armstrong and eventually put him away, but his resilient opponent refused to stay down and took the Gorgeous one quite literally to the limit.

The time expired, rendering this a draw, but as the minutes went by, the crowded were swept up in the story of Garvin growing ever more desperate to win and Armstrong sneaking near falls wherever he could.
Time-Limit Draw

Afterwards, Precious distracted Brad so that Garvin could attack, but Armstrong met him with a flurry of fists and sent him packing, much to the delight of the live crowd.

The Barbarian & Shaska Whately vs. Barron Von Rashke & Hector Guerrero

NWA Starrcade 1986 (The Skywalkers) - Shaska Whately & The Barbarian
Yes, Barron Von Rashke was a babyface now but hadn’t actually changed anything about his character, making for an odd moment when the crowd cheered loudly for a guy doing a goose step despite all the connotations.

The match itself was one of those that the live crowd clearly enjoyed yet didn’t translate well to television viewing, at least not 34 years after the fact.

After a passable but forgettable contest, Rashke picked up the pinfall for his team.
Your Winners: Barron Von Rashke & Hector Guerrero

Post-match, Shaska Whately and Barbarian threw Hector Guerrero out of the ring and beat up on Rashke until Guerrero returned for the save.

Leave Me Alone, Johnny

Backstage in Greensboro, Johnny Weaver told us that Dusty Rhodes had been uncharacteristically quiet as of late, refusing to give any interviews about his upcoming World Television Championship defence.

Just to prove it, Weaver poked his head inside The American Dream’s dressing room and asked him to come out. As a viewer, all we heard was the champion encouraging Weaver to leave him alone.

No Disqualification Match for the National Wrestling Alliance United States Tag Team Championship
NWA US Tag Team Champions Ivan Koloff & Krusher Khruschev vs. The Kansas Jayhawks (Bobby Jaggers & Dutch Mantel)

NWA Starrcade 1986 (The Skywalkers) - Ivan Koloff & Krusher Kruschev
Despite the stipulation, this was mostly just a normal tag team match in which it appeared that nobody involved actually had any idea it was No DQ.

That was decent enough -not great, not the kind of thing that anybody would be raving about afterwards, but decent and inoffensive- though when all hell broke loose in the final minute and whips and chains got involved, it suddenly turned into a lot of fun.

That wild brawl at the finish culminated in Krusher Khruschev blasted Bobby Jaggers in the back of the head with Ivan Koloff’s trusty chain. Koloff himself made the cover and that was all she wrote.
Your Winners and Still US Tag Team Champions: Ivan Koloff & Krusher Khruschev

‘Ricky, you are so ravishing, where do you come from?’ asked a sultry voice as Ravishing Rick Rude’s weird theme music played. Honestly, I don’t know if this is a WWE Network dub or his actual NWA theme, but my goodness it was strange.

NWA Starrcade 1986 (The Skywalkers) - Wahoo McDaniel Indian Strap Match
Ravishing Rick Rude (w/ Paul Jones) vs. Chief Wahoo McDaniel

A lot of other reviewers have ripped this match to shreds but this writer -ever the optimist- quite enjoyed it.

Ok, so it wasn’t a technical marvel or anything, but the crowd were firmly into it, and that made all the difference.

Wahoo McDaniel won after touching the first three corners and then being pushed into the fourth by Rude.
Your Winner: Wahoo McDaniel

Rude and Paul Jones attacked the chief after the bell but Barron Von Rashke and Hector Guerrero came to his aid.

NWA Starrcade 1986 (The Skywalkers) - Ivan Koloff & Krusher Kruschev
Backstage, Rick Stewart interviewed Ivan Koloff & Krusher Khruschev.

Proud of themselves for getting past ‘the jaywalkers’ Ivan and Krusher had their sights set on an upcoming bunkhouse stampede match, though not before paying attention to their former ally Nikita Koloff and his World Heavyweight Championship match with champion Ric Flair.

The Russians were angry at Dusty Rhodes for ‘Americanising’ Nikita but still hoped Koloff won anyway so that they could challenge and defeat him for the title.

Although not the greatest promo in the world, this was pretty compelling stuff that did a great job of advancing the storylines.

National Wrestling Alliance Central States Championship
NWA Central States Champion Sam Houston vs. Bill Dundee

NWA Starrcade 1986 (The Skywalkers) - Sam Houston battled Bill Dundee
Seriously, how many different titles did the NWA have?

This match probably has its critics too, but honestly, I enjoy any match where two guys just wrestle each other and look like they desperately want to win.

Again, this won’t ever be regarded as an all-time classic, but both men did the best they could with what they had and the results were enjoyable.

Towards the finish, referee Scrappy ‘Good Name’ McGowan got bumped in the corner. Bill Dundee used this opportunity to yank Sam Houston’s boot off and hit the champion over the head with it, only for Scrappy to reveal he’d seen the whole thing and disqualify him.
Your Winner and Still Central States Champion: Sam Houston

Up next, the latest in the never-ending rivalry between Jimmy Valiant and Paul Jones.

Hair vs. Hair Match
Jimmy Valiant (w/ Big Mama) vs. Paul Jones (w/ Manny Fernandez)

Valiant had already lost a Hair vs. Hair match to Jones on that summer’s Great American Bash tour, so if he lost today it would be his valet Big Mama who would lose her locks.

Since the aforementioned Bash, Valiant’s former ally Manny Fernandez has betrayed him and aligned himself with Jones. Tonight, he would be suspended in a cage above the ring for the duration of the match even though it took four babyfaces to get him in there.

The match itself was, like most Jimmy Valiant matches from the mid-80s, not very good. Still, the crowd loved it so what can you do?

After a few minutes of nothing noteworthy happening, Valiant seized possession of Jones’ random International Object, blasted his nemesis in the face with it and won the match.
Your Winner: Jimmy Valiant

Post-match, Valiant got to work on turning Jones into a bald-headed geek but was eventually attacked by Fernandez and Rick Rude. The two hit The Boogie Woogie Man with a wicked-looking spike-DDT on a chair that was the best spot in this whole part of the show, but then Barron Von Rashke and Wahoo McDaniel chased them off.

Welcome to Intermission


While the show went to intermission, we cut to a vignette in which Nelson Royal invited us to join him for a cup of coffee by a roaring campfire as he explained the backstory of the Bunkhouse Brawl and the Bunkhouse Stampede event.

The whole thing seemed a little goofy at first but actually made for a fascinating watch as we learned the kayfabe story behind the whole thing.

For the curious, Royal told us that, once upon a time, cowboys working on ranches used to take lodgings in bunkhouses and there’d be so many guys living under one roof that issues were bound to come up. When they did, the men who were at odds with one another would go outside ‘just as they were in their jeans, their shirt, their spurs’ and fight until only one man was left standing.

We’d see this combined with a pro wrestling battle royal at the second annual Bunkhouse Stampede event, coming soon.

We also got a look at the 1986 Jim Crocket Sr. Memorial Cup Tag Team Tournament which had been won by the Road Warriors. The second such tournament would be coming our way in April 1987.

With that, intermission was over and it was back to the show.

Louisville Street Fight
Ronnie Garvin vs. Big Bubba Rogers (w/ Jim Cornette)

Bubba Rogers' theme was basically The Blues Brothers theme, which was lots of fun.

NWA Starrcade 1986 (The Skywalkers) - Big Bubba faced Ronnie Garvin in a Louisville Street Fight
The Louisville Street Fight rules gave he and Ronnie Garvin carte blanche to go anywhere in the arena and basically do anything they wanted. Instead, they stayed exclusively in the ring (give or take the odd time Bubba got thrown outside) and did nothing more extraordinary than having Garvin choke his opponent with a piece of cord and throw a Pepsi in his face.

It was pretty disappointing, especially when the finish was a straight rehash of the same one Garvin had used in his taped fist match with Tully Blanchard on the first night of that year’s Great American Bash tour.

Referee Tommy Young got knocked down. Garvin took out Bubba with a piledriver but got clocked over the head by a tennis-racket-wielding Jim Cornette.

Young came to and when neither man stirred before the count of ten, he declared that there must be a winner and the first man to his feet would be it. That part was exactly the same as the aforementioned Garvin/Blanchard match. Where things differed was that when Garvin almost got to his feet, Cornette once again whacked him with the tennis racket, allowing Bubba to get to his feet and win the match.

The whole thing got better towards the finish, but you got the feeling they could have done a lot more with this.
Your Winner: Big Bubba

If you hadn’t yet had enough of gimmick matches, or if blood being featured in almost every match you were in for a treat as our next match would give us both.

First Blood Match for the National Wrestling Alliance World Television Championship
NWA TV Champion Dusty Rhodes vs. Tully Blanchard (w/ James J. Dillon)

NWA Starrcade 1986 (The Skywalkers) - Dusty Rhodes wearing a Magnum TA t-shirt
Years before the WWF would do this regularly, we saw Dusty Rhodes walking through the backstage area en route to the arena. It was a cooler site than I can adequately describe.

He wore a Magnum T.A t-shirt in tribute to the superstar whose career had been tragically cut short following a tragic automobile accident that October, and had the word ‘Tully’ painted on the side of his head because why wouldn’t he?

Once he got to the ring, he and Blanchard delivered a fun performance, not so much because of their actual wrestling but because of the storytelling and theatrics of it all.

Before we began, James J. Dillon drew some major heel heat for his man by putting a head guard on him. When referee Earl Hebner made him take it off, Dillon started to coat his man’s face in Vaseline to protect him from getting cut open.

While Hebner was busy wiping that off the challenger’s face, Dusty hit Dillon with his patented bionic and bust him open. Yep, the NWA loved blood so much in the 1980s that even the managers couldn’t resist blading.

After a short, decent brawl, Hebner got bumped, because who says having two ‘the referee was knocked out’ finishes in back-to-back matches is overkill?

With him down, Dusty used his elbow to make the challenger bleed, but Dillon covered up the cut with Vaseline and handed his man a roll of quarters that Blanchard used to cut open the champion.

Hebner came to, and there was a hilarious bit where he looked at the blood gushing down Dusty’s face with a state of utter disbelief, wiped it on his own finger, stared at his own hand in shock then looked at Dusty with a double-take and did it again.

Without bothering to look at Tully, our man Earl called for the bell and we had ourselves a new champion.
Your Winner and New TV Champion: Tully Blanchard

Afterwards, Dusty cried out in shock and dismay before protesting to Hebner. When the official refused to change his decision, The American Dream tossed him from the ring.

As I said, the actual wrestling wasn’t great, but the story was a lot of fun.

Scaffold Match
The Midnight Express (Beautiful Bobby Eaton & Loverboy Dennis Condrey w/ Jim Cornette and Big Bubba) vs. The Road Warriors (Hawk & Animal w/ Paul Ellering)

NWA Starrcade 1986 (The Skywalkers) - The Midnight Express and The Road Warriors in a scaffold match
I started watching this match with anxious trepidation, knowing the sickening injury Jim Cornette suffered at the finish.

Indeed, the whole thing was more of a morbid curiosity than an actual wrestling match. Being the hesitant heels that they were, Beautiful Bobby and Loverboy Dennis took several years just to get on top of the scaffolding. When they got there it quickly became apparent that everyone -including the badass Road Warriors- was absolutely terrified.

Even Hawk and Animal clung tightly to the sides as they moved timidly and with trepidation in an attempt to give us some kind of match.

This is absolutely spectacular,” said Schiavone,  lying.

Admittedly, things did get a little bit more exciting towards the finish when all four men began scaling their way down the support structure and ended up swinging from the underside of the platform.

It was a cool visual that resulted in The Midnight Express taking some sick bumps down to the canvas, thus losing the match.
Your Winners: The Road Warriors

Afterwards, Paul Ellering chased Cornette, who, in his fear-inducing stupidity, climbed to the top of the scaffold.

Ellering and Animal met him up there, so Cornette had no choice but to jump down. I say jump, it was a nasty fall that saw him land on his feet and immediately crumple to the mat with a broken knee bone and all kinds of ligament and cartilage damage.

Ouch.

Great American Bash Highlights

NWA Starrcade 1986 (The Skywalkers) - Starrcade Control with Bob Taylor
If you missed that summer’s Great American Bash tour, no worries, the Starrcade ‘86 control center had a highlights package for you.

You can also read reviews of two of the shows in this blog.

The highlights package was followed by another intermission during which time Tony Schiavone hyped up the rolling of the credits like it was some big deal.

I don’t know about you, but it strikes me as somehow fitting that a company that would become the badly-managed WCW would put the end credits in the middle of the show.

Sure enough, they rolled away, giving a Senior Producer credit to the one and only Virgil Runnels.

Schiavone also told us that there were only two matches left on this show, so these must be som pretty long matches.

Cage Match for the National Wrestling Alliance World Tag Team Championship
NWA World Tag Team Champions The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express (Ricky Morton & Robert Gibson) vs. The Andersons (Ole & Arn Anderson)

NWA Starrcade 1986 (The Skywalkers) - The Rock 'n' Roll Express defended the tag team titles against The Andersons
You know, it never fails to amaze me just how insanely over the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express were in their prime.  I bet you could put them in the same ring as Hulk Hogan at the height of Hulkamania and it would be difficult to tell who was the most popular.

Speaking of amazing, this tag team title classic truly is a gem worth watching.

Both teams were at their best here, The Andersons as evil heels taking great pleasure in the pain they were able to inflict on their opponents and The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express as they courageous babyfaces who refused to surrender.

Together, it made for incredible drama, the crowds cheering their heads off as Morton played face-in-peril role that he did so well it became named after him, and took it to a whole new level. At one point, he came within a fingertips length of making the hot tag to Robert Gibson only to be cruelly denied by Ole and Arn.

There was, however, good news for the champion’s loud and diehard audience. After the match broke down into an all-out brawl, Morton got the win after Gibson dropkicked him on top of his opponent.
Your Winners and Still Tag Team Champions: The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express

Post-match, The Andersons attacked the champions until Ricky & Robert we’re able to escape the cave.

National Wrestling Alliance World Heavyweight Championship
NWA World Heavyweight Champion Nature Boy Ric Flair vs. NWA US Champion Nikita Koloff

NWA Starrcade 1986 (The Skywalkers) - Nikita Koloff challenged Ric Flair for the World Heavyweight Championship
According to all sources, this was originally planned to be Flair defending the title against Magnum T.A. since Magnum’s accident had put paid to those plans.

As a tribute, we first saw a video paying homage to T.A That had him running down along a beach and holding hands with his mother. As far as I can gather, this was originally set to a the song ‘Wind Beneath My Wings’ but due to licensing it was replaced with a weird song that made it seem as though Magnum was in love with his mum.

Anyway, that aside, this was a quality match. Maybe it wasn’t the best main event of all time, but it was certainly compelling and made for an enjoyable watch.

After a grilling back and forth battle, referee Tommy Young got knocked to the outside.

Nikita Koloff took down Flair and covered him, giving us the old routine where the babyface should have won because he technically covered the heel for the count of three but there was no referee.

Scrappy McGoodname then got involved but he too got flattened. Young returned, but then got pushed down by both men, resulting in the double DQ finish.
Double DQ

Afterwards, half the heels who had competed on the show (but strangely none of Flair’s Four Horsemen teammates) helped the champion attack Koloff, only for the babyface contingent to rush to the rescue.

After that, Schiavone and Stewart reminisced over some of the show’s highlights and that was Starrcade over with for another year.







Starrcade had started with a bang with a good show back in 1983 but had suffered from two lackluster installments in 1984 and 1985. In 1986, however, the brand came back strong with its most enjoyable episode to date.

Though not every match was world-class caliber stuff, only the poor Valiant/Jones match left a bad taste in the mouth while everything else ranged from decent to awesome.

Even the scaffold match -though not good in the technical sense- was intriguing enough to make it watchable.

The tag team title cage match stole the show and must have been up there as a serious Match of the Year contender.

On the whole, a pretty good show, even if it was on the long side.




Thursday, 19 November 2020

EVENT REVIEW: NWA The Great American Bash 1986 - Charlotte (July 5th)

NWA Great American Bash 1986 (Charlotte, July 5th) - VHS cover
July 5th, 1986
American Legion Memorial Stadium, Charlotte, North Carolina

Before it became the annual WCW PPV we all remember, The NWA Great American Bash began life as a summer tour designed to showcase the best of the best in some of the organization’s most profitable hotspots.

The first such tour kicked off in 1985, though we don’t currently have access to any footage of that since Retro Pro Wrestling started using the WWE Network exclusively for material for this blog.

What we do have access to is two shows -the July 5th and July 26th events- from 1986.

Both of these were uploaded to the WWE Network and, at almost three hours in length apiece, both seem to be the full versions of those shows, or at least as near as dammit.

With that said, let’s head to Charlotte, North Carolina for The Great American Bash.





Let’s Go Skydiving

NWA Great American Bash 1986 (Charlotte, July 5th) - Epic crowd
Our show began not with a video, not with an introduction from the announcers (there weren’t any for this show),  but with a presentation from a gold-medal-winning North Carolina National Sky Diving Team.

I’m sure this was very exciting live at the time, but watching it back 24 years later there’s not much to say about it.

This was followed by the obligatory playing of the American National Anthem, then it was down to ringside for some hype from our ring announcer and, finally, our opening contest.

National Wrestling Alliance World Junior Heavyweight Championship
NWA World Junior Heavyweight Champion Denny Brown vs.  Mr. Electricity Steve Regal

NWA Great American Bash 1986 (Charlotte, July 5th) - Mr Electricity Steve Regal faced Denny Brown
For newer fans, it’s probably worth pointing out that this isn’t the same Steve Regal you’re probably familiar with, but a former star of the AWA who then jumped to the NWA before ending up as cannon fodder for WWF stars.

Though his career on the big stage may not have ended in spectacular fashion, it did look like he was about to have a solid match here with Junior Heavyweight Champion Denny Brown. Things started well, with plenty of running around and athletic wrestling, but then it slowly devolved into one long chinlock as both men quite obviously began just trying to run down the clock.

Regal dominated the bulk of the contest but did so with none of the urgency or desperation that you might expect from a challenger in a championship match.

This was especially frustrating. Rather than doing his best to win, Mr. Electricity seemed quite content to keep reapplying wear-down holds and occasionally boasting to the crowd.

Inevitably, the time ran out and this disappointing opener came to a suitably lackluster finish with the ring announcer simply declaring them match is over’ as Regal and Brown punched each other.
Time-Limit Draw

Post-match, both men continues to wail on each other. Regal again got the upper hand, hurling Brown over the top rope and stealing his title, only for referee Earl Hebner to steal it back.

Non-Title Match
NWA Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Champion Black Bart vs. Robert Gibson

NWA Great American Bash 1986 (Charlotte, July 5th) - Robert Gibson locks Black Bart in a head scissors
If the non-title stipulation didn’t telegraph the ending for you, the overwhelming popularity of Robert Gibson certainly gave it away.

The crowd absolutely loved the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express member and went wild for everything he did, even when what he did wasn’t all that special.

Indeed, that just about sums up this match. It wasn’t anything special, and from a technical standpoint it was average at best, but the sheer adoration for Gibson made it an enjoyable watch all the same.

Predictably, Black Bart came down on the wrong side of a flying cross-body block and ate the pin, much to the delight of the Charlotte crowd.
Your Winner: Robert Gibson

Afterward, Bart stood in the middle of the ring, hands-on-hips, looking as though he couldn’t believe he’d lost.

Special Challenge Match
The Minnesota Wrecking Crew (Ole Anderson  & NWA World TV Champion Arn Anderson) vs. Sam Houston and Nelson Royal

NWA Great American Bash 1986 (Charlotte, July 5th) - Arn Anderson puts Sam Houston in an arm bar of doom
I’m not sure if the Andersons were technically the Minnesota Wrecking Crew here as they were never announced as such.

What I do know is that this was a fairly solid by-the-numbers tag team match that kept me entertained.

After some back and forth offense in the early going, The Andersons cut Nelson Royal off from his partner and worked over his arm for a good length of time.

This could have been boring, but Arn and Ole Anderson kept their offense interesting while Royal did such a great job at writhing in agony that you couldn’t help but enjoy it.

Eventually, Royal made the obligatory hot tag, yet in the ensuing chaos, Sam Houston got waffled by an Ole Ax-Handle from the ropes and lost the match for his team.
Your Winners: Minnesota Wrecking Crew

Moving on...

Bunkhouse Match
Baron Von Rashke (w/ Paul Jones) Manny “Raging Bull” Fernandez

NWA Great American Bash 1986 (Charlotte, July 5th) - Baron Von Rashke faced Manny Fernandez in a Bunkhouse Match
This was billed as Anything Goes, but nothing really went besides Barron Von Raske taking his boot and belt off to use as weapons and at one point pulling a random International Object from his pocket.

The belt was especially a dumb move as he then spent the rest of the match with his jeans falling down.

Despite all that, this was a decent, old-school brawl with the crowd firmly behind Manny Fernandez.

The former Brass Knuckles champion took such a beating from his opponent that he was eventually busted wide open for our first blood let of the evening.

This made a nice change from the last NWA event we reviewed, Starrcade 1985, where almost every wrestler on the card bladed regardless as to whether it made any sense to or not.

After a fun fight, the Raging Bull got the three count on his opponent.
Your Winner: Manny Fernandez

Indian Strap Match
Wahoo McDaniel vs. Gorgeous Jimmy Garvin (w/ Precious)

NWA Great American Bash 1986 (Charlotte, July 5th) - Jimmy Garvin faced Wahoo McDaniel in a strap match
This was neither the longest nor the greatest strap match in the world, but both Wahoo McDaniel and Jimmy Garvin made the best of their allotted ten minutes.

Meanwhile, on the outside, Precious was a very vocal (and pretty attractive) presence, cheering on her man and getting involved physically whenever she felt it necessary.

Unfortunately for her and Garvin, that wasn’t enough to stop the man described by the oh-so-impartial ring announcer as ‘the greatest Indian wrestler of all time.’

Wahoo pummelled Garvin into a bloody mess then dragged him from corner to corner to win this enjoyable match.
Your Winner: Wahoo McDaniel

Afterward, Gorgeous Jimmy attacked Wahoo with what looked to be a bottle of baby oil.

Bet that hurt.

Taped Fist Match
NWA National Champion Tully Blanchard (w/ James J. Dillon) vs. Ronnie Garvin (w/ Wahoo McDaniel)

NWA Great American Bash 1986 (Charlotte, July 5th) - Tully Blanchard battled Ronnie Garvin in a taped fist match
Historically, boxing-type matches in pro wrestling have never been very good. So it was a surprise to discover that this ten-round taped fist match between Ronnie Garvin and Tully Blanchard was by far the best thing on the show up to this point.

In each three minute round, both men took turns beating the living hell out of each other in truly glorious fashion.

Every time a man got knocked down, referee Tommy Young really amped up the authenticity by beginning a serious ten count as though his life depended on it.

Of course, wrestling moves were still allowed because, as Gordon Sollie would often remind us, that’s what it says on the marquee, but there was still far more boxing than wrestling and it was surprisingly awesome.

In the fifth round, both men simultaneously knocked each other down. Young told the ring announcer to announce that the first man to his feet would be declared the winner.

That brought in James J. Dillon, who began desperately- and hilariously- fanning Blanchard with a towel to revive him. That didn’t work, though Wahoo McDaniel has better look reviving Ronnie Garvin by chucking a bucket of water on him.

Garvin got to his feet and this one was done.

Man, if I ever write a ‘best Great American Bash matches’ article, remind me to put this on there.
Your Winner: Ronnie Garvin

Post-match, Dillon argued with the official about Wahoo throwing water on Garvin. Young claimed not to know anything about it even though the ring was now clearly soaking wet.

Brilliant.

Double Russian Chain Match
The Koloffs (Ivan & Nikita Koloff) vs. The Road Warriors (Road Warrior Hawk & Road Warrior Warrior Animal w/ Paul Ellering)

NWA Great American Bash 1986 (Charlotte, July 5th) - Ivan & Nikita Koloff faced The Road Warriors in a chain match
With Hawk chained to Nikita Koloff and Animal linked with Ivan Koloff, this one played out more like two singles matches going on at the same time rather than a coherent tag team match.

Apologies to Road Warriors fans out there, but the results just weren’t that impressive.

After watching Blanchard and Garvin put on a dramatic and entertaining brawl, seeing four huge dudes punch and kick each other with nobody really selling anything just seemed very underwhelming.

After a few minutes of big man brawling, Paul Ellering shoved Ivan off the top rope. Koloff crotched the ropes fell to the mat and was pinned by Animal.
Your Winners: The Road Warriors

Post-match, the Russians attacked by were seen off by the Warriors.

Hair vs. Hair Match
Jimmy Valliant vs.Shaska Whately (w/ Paul Jones)

This was a weird one as we cut right to the action with Shaska Whately attacking Jimmy Valiant from the opening bell then, a few minutes in, the ring announcer declared that the loser would get his head shaved.

Like many NWA bouts, this one wasn’t much to write about, but the crowd were hot so that’s all that matters.

Also, remember what I said earlier about the lack of blood? I take it back. From the Bunkhouse Match onwards, every single match had one or more competitors bleeding, including this one.

Valiant bled hard and really didn’t need to. It was completely unnecessary.

Towards the finish, Barron Von Rashke and Manny Fernandez both put in an appearance, leading to Valiant getting hold of Rashke’s loaded glove and knocking out his opponent for the win.
Your Winner: Jimmy Valiant

Afterward, most of the babyfaces who had already appeared on tonight’s card showed up to fill the ring while Valiant shaves Whately’s head.

It was the highlight of the entire match.

Six-Person Inter-Gender Steel Cage Match
The Midnight Express (Dennis Condrey, Bobby Eaton, and Jim Cornette w/ Big Bubba Rogers) vs. Magnum T.A, Dusty Rhodes and Baby Doll

NWA Great American Bash 1986 (Charlotte, July 5th) - Jim Cornette and The Midnight Express faced Dusty Rhodes, Magnum TA and Baby Doll
Bubba Rogers must have still been in his learning phase here. Despite being on the side of Jim Cornette and the Midnight Express, he spent the entire match watching on from the babyface corner.

That oddness aside, this was a perfectly decent tag team match with the added attraction of people getting their faces ground into the cage for -you guessed it- more bloodshed.

Everyone had their part to play here and played it well, with Dusty Rhodes and Magnum T.A putting in the work against Bobby Eaton and Dennis Condrey, Jim Cornette providing the comic relief, and Baby Doll getting the big pops for hitting the men.

Speaking of which, she got the pin for her team when, in the middle of a six-person fracas, Jim Cornette kind of just tumbled to the mat and allowed her to pin him.
Your Winners: Baby Doll, Magnum T.A, and Dusty Rhodes

Afterward, Big Bubba and the Midnights trapped Magnum and Baby Doll in the cage and destroyed Dusty Rhodes.

Eventually, Rhodes’ partners were able to come and check on him as the ring announcer reminded the live audience to stick around for the post-show fireworks.

Steel Cage Match for the National Wrestling Alliance World Heavyweight Championship
NWA World Heavyweight Champion Nature Boy Ric Flair vs. Ricky Morton

NWA Great American Bash 1986 (Charlotte, July 5th) - Ric Flair arrived in a helicopter for his match with Ricky Morton
OK, forget what I said earlier about Blanchard/Garvin being the match of the night. This one was far, far superior.

Ric Flair arrived in a frickin helicopter. It brought him right into the stadium, a red carpet was rolled out for him, and he sauntered to ringside like it was just another day at the office.

Several decades later, Flair’s daughter Charlotte would pay homage to that at Wrestlemania 35.

Meanwhile, Ricky Morton wore a protective face mask after Nature Boy had attacked him and ground his face into the concrete.

The story of the match was Morton going out for revenge by attacking the champ’s face whenever he could, while Flair himself took every opportunity to do even more damage to Morton’s.

The results were glorious. With blood dripping down his face, Ricky sold Nature Boy’s offense as though he were literally dying, looking so destroyed that even referee Tommy Young begged Flair to give his opponent a chance.

For his part, the champion was excellent both on offense and defense. As an aggressor, he merely toyed with his battered opponent, dragging him around the ring and verbally humiliating him with unbridled confidence as he delivered shots to the face and occasionally grated Morton’s head in the steel cage.

When his opponent was in charge, however, Flair backed off, begged, and played scared.

It was excellent.

Of course, the champion retained his gold so that he could go on to defend it on the rest of the Great American Bash tour dates, but the journey to get that victory was wonderful.
Your Winner and Still World Heavyweight Champion: Ric Flair

I should also point out that this was the first major event (chronologically speaking) to feature the famous Big Gold Belt.





If you forget about the fact that there were far too many gimmick matches and bloodshed on this show, the Charlotte stop of The Great American Bash 1986 was a decent effort with two stand-out matches.

Though not everyone agrees, this fan found the taped fist match between Tully Blanchard and Ronnie Garvin to be genuinely enjoyable, while the Flair/Morton main event is definitely worth a look even if you skip the rest of the show.

Finally, give me a moment to complain about the blood some more. Though it was a great visual in the main event, the sight of Ricky Morton covered in blood would have had a much bigger impact had we not seen almost every wrestler on the card do the exact same thing.

It was a problem at Starrcade ‘85 and it was a problem here too.

We’ve all heard stories of older wrestlers telling the younger performers that ‘less is more,’ and I can’t help but wish somebody within the NWA heeded that advice back in the mid-1980s.




Other WCW Great American Bash reviews: 
Other 1986 events:
Be the first to catch the latest Retro Pro Wrestling reviews by following on Facebook or Twitter @RetroPWrestling.

Retro Pro Wrestling

New reviews of classic WWF/WWE events recalling every moment from Wrestlemania 1 - 30. You'll also find reviews of WCW, ECW, TNA and the occasional indie event, along with a look at old school magazines, merchandise and more.