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 Magnum TA. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Magnum TA. Show all posts

Thursday, 3 December 2020

EVENT REVIEW - NWA The Great American Bash 1986 - Greensboro (July 26th)

NWA Great American Bash 1986 (Greensboro, July 26th) - VHS cover
July 26th, 1986
Greensboro Colliseum, Greensboro, North Carolina

When WWE decided to take two of the events from the National Wrestling Alliance's Great American Bash 1986 tour and upload them to the WWE Network,  they did so as they were originally recorded, ie: without a commentary track.


While it certainly made for a novel experience, it didn't make the first of those two shows (the July 5th event in Charlotte) any less enjoyable.

On this July 26th stop in Greensboro, things would naturally be a little different.

Unlike the Charlotte show, this was an indoor arena, meaning we wouldn't kick things off with a parachute show, and we certainly wouldn't have Ric Flair arriving for his main event title match in a freakin' helicopter.

Still, that doesn't mean this couldn't be every bit as enjoyable.





Here's what went down when the NWA Great American Bash Tour stopped into Greensboro on a hot summer night in July 1986.

Mr Electricity Steve Regal vs. Sam Houston

NWA Great American Bash 1986 (Greensboro, July 26th) - Mr Electricity Steve Regal faced Sam Houston
There will likely be people who slate this match for being one long chinlock followed by a pinfall, but Steve Regal and Sam Houston had the crowd right where they wanted them the whole time and this made what could have otherwise been a very boring match very entertaining.

Houston was immensely popular and had the audience desolately rooting for him from bell to bell, especially as he struggled to break free from Regal’s chinlock.

For his part, Mr Electricity made that wear-down hols matter, constantly urging referee Earl Hebner to ‘ask him, ref’ and acting like he was seriously trying to beat Houston with the hold rather than, you know, using it as an excuse not to do anything.

The chinlock didn’t win the match for Regal, but he did score the victory after he thwarted Sam’s big comeback and pinned him with his feet on the ropes.
Your Winner: Steve Regal

Afterwards, Houston petitioned to Earl Hebner about the nefarious means by which Regal had won. Hebner, ever the genius, marched over to Regal and asked him whether he had indeed cheated, as though the victorious grappler would willingly fess up and yell ‘Sure! Of course I did!’

Naturally, Mr Electricity denied the whole thing but did accept Houston’s challenge to a spot of impromptu fisticuffs. Much to the delight of the Charlotte faithful, he promptly lost said fisticuffs and stormed out, leaving our man Sam to bask in the adoration of his doting fans.

NWA Mid-Atlantic Champion Black Bart & The Barbarian vs. Denny Brown and The Italian Stallion

NWA Great American Bash 1986 (Greensboro, July 26th) - The Barbarian and Black Bart
This was a completely acceptable lower-card match. Not spectacular, nothing that would make you want to tell your friends about it or even watch it ever again, but a decent, watchable outing all the same.

Both teams traded the advantage before Black Bart slammed The Italian Stallion to the mat then tug in The Barbarian for the match-winning top-rope headbutt.
Your Winners: Black Bart and The Barbarian

In an amusing, post-match moment, Stallion and Denny Brown embraced them raised their arms as if in victory to acknowledge the crowd. Half the crowd started booing them as if to say ‘what are you doing that for? You lost!’

Well, I thought it was funny anyway.

Glove on a Pole Match
Baron Von Rashke vs. Raging Bull Manny Fernandez

NWA Great American Bash 1986 (Greensboro, July 26th) - Baron Von Rashke chokes Manny Fernandez
Since I first started diving back into old NWA shows from the 1980s, I’ve become a bit of a fan of Manny Fernandez, but even I can’t find much good to say about what was a pretty dumb match.

First of all, there was the glove. Notice this is just a ‘glove on a pole’ match. Not a coalminer’s glove, not a Deadly Handmitten of Doom or anything like that, just your average, everyday glove.

Honestly, when the cameras zoomed in on it, it looked just like a lady’s driving glove. Not exactly very intimidating.

Then there was Fernandez’s opponent. If you’re going to have any type of ‘on a pole’ match, it should at least involve competitors who can move around easily to sell the idea that either man would be capable of grabbing the offending weapon. Yet Barron Von Rashke was so slow and immobile that Fernandez could have crawled from the other side of the state and still had time to stop Rashke climbing to the top rope.

Eventually, the Barron got so fed up of spending six weeks trying to climb up and grab the glove that he just gave up and clamped the Claw on Raging Bull instead.

Inexplicably, having another man’s hand squeezing his head somehow caused Fernandez to be busted wide open. It was pretty ridiculous.

After applying the hold for several millennia, Rashke eventually got the glove but before he could use it, Manny hit him with the Flying Burrito (seriously, that’s what it was called) and won the match.

In other words, this was a glove on a pole match in which neither man actually used the glove.
Your Winner: Manny Fernandez

Post-match, Rashke beat up on his rival but still didn’t get to use the glove because the Raging Bull got the hell out of there.

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

NWA Great American Bash 1986 (Greensboro, July 26th) - Gorgeous Jimmy Garvin & Precious
The ring announcer declared that this would be ‘a wrestling match to a finish’ which I suppose makes it different to all those wrestling matches that never end.

If you’ve seen the Indian Strap Match these two had on the Charlotte stop of the Great American Bash 86 tour, there’s no need to watch this one because it was the exact same match.

Though it may not have been move-for-move identical, the structure and all of the big spots were.

From Wahoo McDaniel whipping Jimmy Garvin before the match started to Precious interfering and both men’s attempts to get round all four corners, everything went down the same, including the finish.

As he had done last time, a bloody McDaniel dragged an equally as bloody Garvin around the ring to win the match.

Yes, this was the second match in a row to feature blood and, if past shows are anything to go by, I’d be very surprised if we got through a single match before the end of the show rush doesn’t feature blood.
Your Winner: Wahoo McDaniel

Just as he had done last time, Garvin attacked his opponent after the bell. This time, however, they spiced things up by having McDaniel turn the tables and send his nemesis packing.

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

This is another match that was very similar to the one they had in Charlotte, but I enjoyed that one so much that I didn’t mind watching the whole thing again.

As with the last match, this played out in mostly the same way as it had before. Tully Blanchard took a beating from Ronnie Garvin and sold the whole thing like he was on the verge of death.

However, there was something about this particular performance that didn’t quite match the intensity nor the enjoyment of their previous outing.

The finish was different too. This time, instead of narrowly avoiding a double count-out and winning the match, Garvin got clocked by Blanchard’s brass knuckles and lost.
Your Winner: Tully Blanchard

Afterwards, Blanchard helped a bloody J.J. Dillon backstage. Yep, the NWA loved their blood so much that even the managers had started to get cut open.

Tag Team Championship Number One Contender’s Match
The Andersons (NWA TV Champion Arn Anderson & Ole Anderson) vs. The Rock ‘night Roll Express

NWA Great American Bash 1986 (Greensboro, July 26th) - Arn Anderson taunts Ricky Morton
With a shot at the tag team titles on the line, all four men earned their money by working hard to give us what was hands down the best match of the night so far.

With the ever-passionate NWA fans firmly behind Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson, Ole and Arn Anderson pushed them to their limits only for the good guys to continually fight back.

The results made for captivating viewing even if you could see the ending coming from a mile away.

As both teams waged a compelling war, the ring announcer told us that five minutes were remaining, then four, then three and then, well, let’s just say the time limit draw was predictable.

Other than that, this was a lot of fun.
Time Limit Draw

Post-match, The Andersons attacked only for Robert Gibson to clean house with a steel chair.

Hair vs. Hair Match
Number One Paul Jones (w/ Barron Von  Rashke) vs. Boogie Woogie Man Jimmy Valiant (w/ Manny Fernandez)

NWA Great American Bash 1986 (Greensboro, July 26th) - Jimmy Valiant is traumatised by getting his head shaved
We joined this one with Jimmy Valiant leading the crowd in a chant of ‘Bald-headed geek!’ - an insult the crowd had earlier levied at Von Rashke in the glove on a pole match.

After beating Shaska Whatley in a similar Hair vs. Hair mask in Charlotte, Valiant promised that he would turn Paul Jones into a bald-headed geek too but, alas, tonight wasn’t to be his night.

After an underwhelming match in which both men just hit each other with an international object and made each other bleed (obviously), Whately ran in and clocked Valiant with a chair to give his manager the win.
Your Winner: Paul Jones

Valiant’s second, Manny Fernandez was joined in the ring by Denny Brown and The Italian Stallion, all three of whom protested this terrible injustice to referee Earl Hebner, but Valiant agreed to take the loss mike a trooper and had his head shaved by ‘former wrestling great, Sandy Scott.’

Valiant looked distraught at first and sold the shaving as though he was being tortured. Then, he went into a state of zen-like calm as his trademark locks were chopped off and Paul Jones gloated on the microphone about having beaten the Boogie Woogie man all by himself.

Ok then.

NWA Great American Bash 1986 (Greensboro, July 26th) - Magnum TA and faced Nikita Koloff in their Best of Seven seriesNikita Koloff (w/ Ivan Koloff) vs. Magnum T.A.

This was match number four of the famous Best of Seven Series between Magnum T.A and Nikita Koloff. and it was disappointing at best.

Another match with lots of unnecessary bloodshed, it was a fairly average encounter with nothing beyond Magnum’s crimson mask worth mentioning.

Speaking of Mr T.A, he scored the victory following a sunset flip.
Your Winner: Magnum T.A

Up next, inter-gender fun...

Six-Person Inter-Gender Cage Match
Jim Cornette and NWA Tag Team Champions The Midnight Express (Loverboy Dennis Condrey & Beautiful Bobby Eaton) vs. Baby Doll & The Road Warriors (Hawk & Animal w/ Paul Ellering)

Jim Cornette and The Midnight Express fought in a similar match back in Charlotte, only that one had Magnum T.A. and Dusty Rhodes in Baby Doll’s corner rather than The Road Warriors.

NWA Great American Bash 1986 (Greensboro, July 26th) - Jim Cornette
Personally, I enjoyed this one the most out of the two and that’s surprising because I rarely enjoy Road Warriors matches.

Maybe it was the sweet arm drag Baby Doll gave to Beautiful Bobby Eaton at the start of the match. Maybe it was Jim Cornette playing the cowardly heel to perfection. Whatever it was, something about this match worked.

As in Charlotte, Baby Doll got the win for her team by pinning James E.
Your Winners: Baby Doll & The Road Warriors

And finally, our main event of the evening:

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

NWA Great American Bash 1986 (Greensboro, July 26th) - Dusty Rhodes celebrates winning the World Heavyweight Title from Ric Flair
A rematch from their Starrcade 85 encounter, this one started pretty slowly but got better and better as it went on.

Unsurprisingly, both men battered each other to a bloody mess, with their charisma and personality doing more to make this a captivating performance than any of their actual wrestling moves.

Personally, this fan enjoyed Flair’s Charlotte bout with Ricky Morton much more, but this was still pretty damn good.

After a good effort, the head booker of the company won the title with a cradle.
Your Winner and NEW World Heavyweight Champion: Dusty Rhodes

After the bell, the babyface locker room flooded the ring to celebrate with the new champion as the show came to a close.





On the whole, the two Great American Bash 86 shows featured on the WWE Network have been a lot of fun to watch.

Sure, not everything was amazing, but Flair’s two main events, The Andersons’ tag team efforts and Tully Blanchard’s awesome selling in his matches with Ronnie Garvin were all highlights.

In between, old-school fans will certainly find a lot to enjoy here.



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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.




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Thursday, 5 November 2020

EVENT REVIEW: NWA Starrcade 1985 - The Gathering

NWA Starrcade 1985 - Event poster
November 28, 1985 
Greensboro Coliseum Complex, Greensboro, North Carolina 
Omni Coliseum, Atlanta, Georgia. 

It's often said that Vince McMahon is a genius, but when you think about it, how many of his ideas were truly original?

Sure, he gave us the game-changing Attitude Era, but wasn't that merely an inevitable evolution from the kind of content surveyed by Extreme Championship Wrestling?

Sure, he gave us memorable angles like D-Generation-X, but wasn't that just in response to the unprecedented popularity of the New World Order?

And sure, he gave us Wrestlemania, an event which today holds its own among the likes of the Superbowl as a veritable institution, but before there was 'Mania, it was NWA Starrcade which held the crown of pro wrestling's premier event.

Now in its third year, Starrcade 1985 was the first version of the National Wrestling Alliance's marquee event to take place after the success of Wrestlemania 1.  In an attempt to prove that theirs was still the biggest and best, Jim Crockett Promotions upped the ante, running The Gathering from two separate venues and once again beating McMahon to the punch before he had the chance to put Wrestlemania 2 in three venues simultaneously.

Would JCP have better luck with this multi-venue format than the WWF would have months later?

Let's head down to both Greensboro and Atlanta to find out.







NWA Starrcade 1985 - Bob Caudle and Tony 'The Mustache' Schiavone
Welcome To The Gathering

After a rather spiffy intro that was about a thousand times better than the kind of lame intros WCW would start its PPVs with in the nineties, we got a welcome from our Atlanta-based announcers Bob Caudle and Tony 'The Mustache' Schiavone.

The two hyped tonight's big matches before sending it over to Johnny Weaver, who was handling backstage interviews over at the other Starrcade site, the Greensboro coliseum.

With that, it was onto our opening match.

Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Championship
Krusher Khrushchev vs. Sam Houston

NWA Starrcade 1985 - Sam Houston battled Krusher Kruschev
There will be modern fans who hate this match for its reliance on long-periods of 'rest holds,' but personally, this writer found it to be a decent opening match.

The crowd adored babyface Sam Houston and that made everything he and Krusher Khrushchev did seem like a big deal.

OK, so this kind of match was very much of its time, but if you can watch it in context rather than through the filter of modern pro wrestling, there was a lot to like here.

After a solid effort, Khrushchev demolished his opponent, smashing his way to victory and repossessing the vacant Mid-Atlantic title.
Your Winner: Krusher Khrushchev

Moving swiftly on...

Mexican Death Match
Abdullah The Butcher (w/ Paul Jones) vs. The Ragin' Bull Manny Fernandez

NWA Starrcade 1985 - Abdullah The Butcher faced Manny Fernandez in a 'Sombrero on a Pole' Mexican Death Match
Well, this was a strange one.

It was billed as a 'Mexican death match' but was basically a 'sombrero on a pole match' with the obligatory Abdullah The Butcher bloodshedding.

It was OK for what it was, but I can't help but feel like a Mexican death match should have delivered a lot more.

After a few minutes of Basic Blood Spilling 101, Manny Fernandez hit a move called Flying Burrito because that was the sort of thing that was totally acceptable in the 1980s.

In case you're wondering, it was a flying forearm. It allowed Ragin' Bull to knock Abby on his flabby ass, climb the pole, retrieve the sombrero and win the contest.
Your Winner: Manny Fernandez

Backstage, Krusher Khrushchev was interviewed by Johnny Weaver.

Russian sympathizer Khrushchev thanked The Kollofs for helping prepare him for tonight’s match before claiming that his victory proved that Russia had the world's most superior athletes.

This was a decent enough promo from Mr. Darsow, even if the crappy audio did mean that you could hear his every word echoing around the arena.

Texas Bullrope Match
Cowboy Ron Bass vs. Blacktop Bully (w/ James J. Dillon)

NWA Starrcade 1985 - Outlaw Ron Bass faced Black Bart
If Ron Bass wins, he gets a five-minute bullrope match with JJ Dillon

Two-thirds of this match involved Ron Bass hitting his former Long Riders partner in the face repeatedly with a cowbell.

Christopher Walkden would have loved it.

Blacktop Bart occasionally fought back, but this was all about him getting his comeuppance in his heated rivalry with Bass and bleeding like the proverbial stuck pig.

The match was pretty decent, though again I can see why some people wouldn’t like it when viewed through the filter of modern wrestling.

After a few minutes of fairly slow action, Bass lept off the top rope with a death-defying Flying Super Cowbell Shot to the Head of Doom and won the match.
Your Winner: Ron Bass

Wasting no time, James J. Dillon immediately got to the ring and started attacking Bass.

Texas Bullrope Match
James J. Dillon vs. Ron Bass

Bass fought back quickly and this one quickly developed into another one-sided ass-kicking until the referee took a tumble.

That allowed Blacktop Bart to hit a piledriver and dump Dillon on top of his opponent.

One three count later and we were done here.
Your Winner: James J. Dillon

Arm Wrestling Match
The Barbarian (w/ Paul Jones) vs. Superstar Billy Graham

NWA Starrcade 1985 - Superstar Billy Graham faced Barbarian in an arm-wrestling match
Man, they were really going all out with the gimmick matches on this show, weren’t they?

Back at Starrcade ‘84, Superstar Billy Graham had turned up looking like crap and doing a silly karate gimmick for a horrible match with Wahoo McDaniel.

Tonight, he arrived looking more like the Billy Graham for an arm-wrestling match with The Barbarian.

Fun flashback: remember when Dusty Rhodes was doing commentary for WCW and it always sounded like he called Barbarian ‘The Ball Bearing?’

I mention that because its easier than trying to review a worked arm-wrestling match.

Credit where it’s due, Graham and Ball Bearing really did sell this like they were arm-wrestling as though their lives depended on it and were pretty convincing, but it was still just arm-wrestling.

Billy Graham won and I don’t know what else to say about that.
Your Winner: Superstar Billy Graham

Paul Jones immediately attacked Billy Graham and that apparently led us right into a match.

Superstar Billy Graham vs. The Barbarian (w/ Paul Jones)

The actual wrestling match was OK, but again it wasn’t particularly special.

For the third match in a row, we got plenty of blood because this was the 80s and it was the law.

As the end came, Graham locked on a bear hug, Jones then hit him with his cane and that was that.
Your Winner via Disqualification: Billy Graham

Post-match, the two brawled out in the crowd.

National Wrestling Alliance National Championship
NWA National Champion Terry Taylor vs. Buddy Landel (w/ James J. Dillon)

NWA Starrcade 1985 - Buddy Landel works Terry Taylor's arm.
Buddy Landel was claiming to be ‘The Real Nature Boy’ and did his best Ric Flair impression for this singles contest against future Red Rooster, Terry Taylor.

This was another competent match,  albeit one that never really kicked up into the kind of high gear you’d probably hope for.

That seemed to be the big issue with almost everything on this show so far. Most of it was fine, but for the NWA’s biggest show of the year you’d probably expect more.

The end came with a win for Nature Boy thanks to Dillon’s interference.
Your Winner and NEW National Champion: Buddy Landell

No time to waste, the NWA were cramming as much into this show as possible.

National Wrestling Alliance National Tag Team Champions
NWA National Tag Team Champions The Minnesota Wrecking Crew (Ole & Arn Anderson) vs. NWA US Tag Team Champions Wahoo McDaniel & Billy Jack Haynes

NWA Starrcade 1985 - Arn Anderson locks up with Wahoo McDaniel
So, here we have the Starrcade debuts of Arn Anderson and Billy Jack Haynes while Ole Anderson puts in his second appearance and Wahoo McDaniel continues his run of appearing in every Starrcade so far.

One thing I will point out is the randomness of the theme music on this show. McDaniel and Haynes came out to a very obvious rip off of 1999 by Prince. It was so weird, so unsuitable, and yet so perfectly 80s.

The other weird thing about this show was the commentary. Not just in this match but throughout the entire event, there were entire minutes were neither Caudle nor Schiavone said a word.

Occasionally, they’d chip in with a remark or two but then it was right back to radio silence from our announcers, making for a very odd viewing experience indeed.

Anyway, neither the Ill-fitting entrance music nor the lack of commentary could take away from what was otherwise a very solid match that could have benefited from having a few more minutes tacked onto it.

Otherwise, this was one of the better matches on the card, coming to a close with a win for the Andersons thanks to some shady heel shenanigans.
Your Winners and Still National Tag Team Champions: The Minnesota Wrecking Crew

Backstage, Johnny Weaver interviewed James J. Dillon and Nature Boy Buddy Landell.

In one of the better interview segments from the last three Starrcades, Dillon bragged about being the ‘Bullrope’ champion and about how he knew all along that Landell was championship material.

For his part, Nature Boy insisted that he’d modelled his life after Tully Blanchard, The Andersons, and Ric Flair. He also called himself the ‘world’s national champion’ which I’m not sure is accurate.

Anyway, this was pretty decent stuff from a confident and cocksure Landell.

Steel Cage ‘I Quit’ Match for the National Wrestling Alliance United States Championship
NWA United States Champion Tully Blanchard (w/ Baby Doll) vs. Magnum T.A

NWA Starrcade 1985 - Magnum T.A battled Tully Blanchard in an awesome US title match
My goodness, this was insanely good. Brilliantly brutal and brutally brilliant, it was an intense, impassioned bloodbath for the ages.

At no point did this ever feel like a choreographed wrestling match. It felt like a straight-up fight to the death between two men who legitimately wanted to kill each other.

The blood let cane thick and fast and would have added even more to what was already an incredible performance had so many other wrestlers not bled unnecessarily later on in the show.

Not that it mattered.

The violence was off the charts, the intensity and emotion was something else, and the whole thing was awesome from start to finish.

Speaking of the finish...

Tully Blanchard got a wooden chair into the ring somehow but then smashed it up rather than using it on his opponent. It looked like an odd move at first but then he took a spiked piece of the broken chair and tried to stab Magnum T.A in the eye with it.

Magnum fought back, took control of the spike and jammed it into his rival’s head until the champion surrendered.

Amazing.
Your Winner and NEW US Champion: Magnum T.A

Before the next match, Jim Cornette made his Starrcade debut to introduce his boys, The Midnight Express.

The Midnight Express (Beautiful Bobby Eaton & Loverboy Dennis Condrey w/Jim Cornette) vs. Jimmy Valiant & Miss Atlanta Lively (w/Big Mama)

NWA Starrcade 1985 - Miss Atlanta Lively was Ronnie Garvin in drag
OK, so, The Midnight Express we’re wearing tuxedos for some unknown reason and Miss Atlanta Lively was Ronnie Garvin in drag, also for unknown reasons.

Together with Jimmy Valliant (making his third Starrcade appearance), they all created a chaotic mess with almost no redeeming qualities.

Sure, this was a straight-up comedy match and that would have been fine if, you know, it had actually been funny.

There weren’t many laughs, but there was a lot of mess.

Thankfully, it was kept quite short and ended when Miss Atlanta Lively kind of just lied down on top of Dennis Condrey for the win.
Your Winners: Miss Atlanta Lively and Jimmy Valiant

Afterward, the good guys stripped Jim Cornette down to his knickers.

NWA Starrcade 1985 - New US Champion Magnum TA gives an interview to Johnny WeaverOur New US Champion

Backstage, Johnny Weaver interviewed Magnum T.A.

The new US Champion cut a compelling promo, declaring that he’d be ready to defend “the fighting champion’s belt” against anyone on the roster.

Between that match and this promo, it was easy to see why people had such high hopes on Magnum becoming The Next Big Thing.

Steel Cage Match for the National Wrestling Alliance World Tag Team Championship
NWA World Tag Team Champions Ivan & Nikita Koloff (w/ Krusher Khrushchev) vs. The Rock 'n' Roll Express

This was a quality match but it really didn’t need the cage match stipulation, especially since we’d already had an all-time classic less than thirty minutes earlier, and especially since referee Earl Hebner enforced traditional tag rules throughout.

Even despite all that, this was a great effort from everyone involved and the crowd absolutely ate it up.

A Ricky Morton roll-up sealed the deal for him and Robert Gibson earning them the titles.

On another note, Don Kernodle was at ringside for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express. So far, he’d appeared at all three Starrcade shows and yet never once wrestled a match. As far as I know, he was still an active competitor at this stage of his career.
Your Winners and New World Tag Team Champions: The Rock n Roll Express

Post-match, the Russians got their revenge by beating the Rock ‘n’ Roll express to a pulp and taking out anyone who tried to help the. We champions.

Finally, it was onto our main event of the evening.

National Wrestling Alliance World Heavyweight Championship
NWA World Heavyweight Champion Nature Boy Ric Flair vs. The American Dream Dusty Rhodes

NWA Starrcade 1985 - Dusty Rhodes battled Ric Flair for the World Heavyweight Championship
This match was a perfect reflection of Starrcade ‘85 as a whole.

It was far superior to the 1984 effort but there was still something about it that didn’t quite meet the expectations might have for it.

I mean, don’t get me wrong:

It was Dusty Rhodes and Ric Flair, so it was always going to be very enjoyable. What’s more, it didn’t suffer from the same terrible Smokin’ Joe Frazier ending that Rhodes/Flair ‘84 did, but it just didn’t quite feel like the all-time Classic that it perhaps could have been.

Towards the end, referee Tommy Young got bumped, prompting a run in from the Minnesota Wrecking Crew to attack Dusty. Flair capitalized by making the cover as a new referee ran in, but alas he only got a two count.

Dusty then rolled up his opponent, and one three count later we had a new champion.
Your Winner and New World Heavyweight Champion: Dusty Rhodes

Afterward, a bunch of babyfaces ran in to congratulate the new champion and douse him in champagne.

Dusty Did it For the Blue Collar Workers

The champagne continued to flow backstage as Tong Schiavone got an interview with the new champion.

The American Dream dedicated his match to the textile workers as well as ‘the auto workers and the car workers,’ who were apparently two different sets of people.

He then vowed to remain champion for a long time, bringing this ace promo, and this show, to an end.







All in all, Starrcade 85: The Gathering wasn’t a bad show. Only the weirdness with Miss Atlanta Lively and Jimmy Valiant was outright poor, but with very few exceptions almost everything else settled around a level of mediocrity.

Man though, what exceptions they were.

Tully Blanchard vs. Magnum T.A. deserves all the credit it gets and is genuinely one of the best matches this fan has seen in years.

Elsewhere, the world tag team title match was exhilarating stuff, and though Rhodes and Flair’s second Starrcade main event wasn’t a classic, it was still very entertaining.

Watch for those matches but don’t feel bad about skipping everything else.




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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.