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Showing posts with label Mike Davis. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mike Davis. Show all posts

Thursday, 8 October 2020

PPV REVIEW: NWA Starrcade 1984 - The Million Dollar Challenge

November 22, 1984
Greensboro Coliseum Complex, Greensboro, North Carolina

Back at Starracde 1983, Dusty Rhodes had appeared multiple times and, in between cutting a series of bizarre promos, appeared to challenge the winner of the Harley Race vs. Ric Flair title match.

Between then and now, Flair had actually lost and regained the title at least twice, but give credit to the National Wrestling Alliance, they stuck with their long-term booking plans and presented Rhodes vs. Flair as tonight's feature attraction.

Not only was the title on the line, however, but the winner of the match would also win one million dollars, hence the Million Dollar Challenge subtitle of tonight's show.

As for the rest of the card?

Well, let's head down to the Greensboro Colliseum and check it out, shall we?







Welcome to Starrcade, The Premier Event of the Decade

We began tonight's show with a brief look back at the finish to Starrcade 1983's main event with Ric Flair pinning Harley Race to become our new World Heavyweight Champion.

Alas, as our announcers Bob Caudle and Gordon Sollie were quick to remind us, that was then and this is now.

Tonight, three-time World Heavyweight Champion Flair would defend the title against Dusty Rhodes in a match where a million dollars was also on the line.

The two then hyped up tonight's show before sending it down to the ring where the ring announcer clearly got lost and wasn't sure what to do.

The Premier Event of the Century, Starrcade '84

Seriously, he first welcomed all the ladies and gentlemen to Starrcade '84, calling it 'The Premier Wrestling Event of the Decade.'

He then changed his mind and introduced us again, this time to 'The Premier Event of the Wrestling Century.' After that, poor Mr. Ring Announcer flipped through his papers but still couldn't figure out what to say next so ended up asking referee Earl Hebner.

National Wrestling Alliance Junior Heavyweight Championship
NWA Junior Heavyweight Champion Mike Davis vs. Denny Brown

Eventually, the ring announcer figured out what was happening and we got on with our opening contest, a decent junior heavyweight match between champion Mike Davis and challenger Denny Brown.

This was an interesting match as it was clearly just two guys competing to see who the better wrestler was with no animosity and none of the back-stories that are usually attached to almost all modern pro wrestling matches.

At one point, Brown even went crashing out of the ring. Rather than capitalizing on this by heading out to attack him, Davis left the ring, checked on his opponent and held the ropes open for him so that he could get back in the ring.

Unfortunately, being Mr. Nice Guy didn't work out quite so well for the champion.

At the finish, Davis hit a bridging German suplex on Brown but ended up pinning himself when Brown got his arm up at the last second.
Your Winner and NEW Junior Heavyweight Champion: Denny Brown

Afterward, Davis was irate for like two seconds but then congratulated the new champion.

The ever-confused ring announcer declared the wrong man as champion before correcting himself.

Backstage, Tony Schiavone hung out in the dressing room to let us know that he'd be hanging out in the dressing room for the rest of the show and conducting interviews.

Mr Ito vs. Brian Adias

There wasn't much to this match. It was only a few minutes long and very much felt like filler, but even then it was a decent enough match.

After a few minutes of basic, old-school professional wrestling, Adias lifted his larger opponent up for an airplane spin and won the match.
Your Winner: Brian Adias

Seriously, only in the 80s would that move end a match.

National Wrestling Alliance Florida Heavyweight Championship
National Wrestling Alliance Florida Heavyweight Champion Jesse Barr vs. Mike Graham

This was another really good quality match. Ok, so maybe it wasn’t the kind of raging classic you’d see from today’s performers, but neither man held anything back and gave us nothing less than solid wrestling from start to finish.

After an unrelenting performance, champion Jesse Barr used the ropes for leverage to get the cover, the count, and the fall.
Your Winner and Still Florida Heavyweight Champion: Jesse Barr

Up next, we flashed back to a recent TV taping on which Ricky Steamboat and Dick Slater had been beaten up after competing in a tag match.

Sollie and Caudle told us that Steamboat had put $10,000 of his own money on the line to get revenge.

Tag Team Elimination Match
The Zambuie Express (Kareem Muhammad & Elijah Akeem w/ Paul Jones) vs. Assassin Number 1 & Buzz Tyler

There wasn’t much to this match. It was mostly just punching, clobbering, and more punching, but there was something about the way that the crowd was super into every blow that made it just incredibly fun to watch.

At least it was fun until the finish.

We were told that this was an elimination-style tag team match, but after Assassin #1 pinned one of the Zambuie Express, the match should have continued, right?

Even the announcers seemed to think so, but then it was revealed that their respective partners had been counted out and thus had both been eliminated.

It was a little confusing and would have made more sense if they’d just kept this to a standard one-fall tag, but hey, it’s a small complaint.
Your Winners: Assassin Number One and Buzz Tyler

Backstage, Dusty Rhodes was sad chilling while Tony Schiavone bigged him up.

Rhodes then cut a fast-paced shouty promo in which he promised that Ric Flair would become yesterday’s newspaper.

He probably meant 'yesterday's news,' but with Dusty, who knows?

Anything Goes Match for the National Wrestling Alliance Brass Knuckles Championship
NWA Brass Knuckles Champion Black Bart (w/ James J. Dillon) vs. NWA Tag Team Champion Ragin’ Bull

The Brass Knuckles Championship was essentially a precursor to the modern-day hardcore championships. The announcers told us many times that anything goes, but sadly neither champion Black Bart nor challenger Manny ‘Ragin’ Bull’ Fernandez really took advantage of that stipulation.

For the most part, this was just a straight-up wrestling match with added blood.

It was OK for what it was, but certainly, nothing that anybody should rush out to see.

Eventually, J.J Dillon tossed the champion a length of rope but Bart got rolled up and pinned by the Ragin’ Bull.
Your Winner and NEW NWA Brass Knuckles Champion: Ragin’ Bull

As the show went to intermission in the arena, Ricky Steamboat talked to Tony Schiavone backstage.

When he wasn’t repeating the phrase ‘everybody has been gearing up for this night all year’ over and over again, Steamboat told Schiavone that he had been seriously injured when Tully Blanchard, Black Bart and Ron Bass attacked him and was in a lot of pain. Regardless, he was looking forward to getting his revenge on Blanchard.

God bless Steamboat, he was one of the greatest in-ring performers ever but his promos were never much to write home about.

Offering a retort, TV champion Tully Blanchard and his manager J.J. Dillon reminded us of the stipulations for their match:

The title could change hands on a DQ and if Blanchard tried to run away, he’d lose the title.

The champion didn’t seem too concerned by this. He insisted that Steamboat was going down and that after that he’d go after the world champion no matter who that might be.

Tuxedo Street Fight
Loser Must Leave Town
Paul Jones (w/  Kareen Muhammed) vs. Jimmy Valiant (w/ Assassin Number One)

So, Jimmy Valiant was no longer doing the Charlie Brown gimmick he had back at Starrcade 1983. That’s a bit of a shame. As ridiculous as it was, I kind of enjoyed it.

What I didn’t enjoy this chaotic mess of nonsense.

In the opening moments, Valliant tied Paul Jones to the ropes and very quickly stripped him down to his undies.

Honestly, I thought that’s how a tuxedo match should end, but not this one. Jones broke free and went on the attack but Valliant made a comeback and looked to be in control until JJ Dillon interfered, giving the win to Mr Jones
Your Winner: Paul Jones

The loss meant that Jimmy Valiant now had to ‘leave the area,’ though it was never expressly stated what that meant.

  • Did he have to leave the NWA?
  • Did he have to leave whatever territory he was most closely associated with?
  • Or did he simply have to leave the town they were in like every wrestler on the show would have to anyway?

If so, for how long?

Who knows?

Not me, that’s who.

Ric Flair is Ready

Backstage, Tony Schiavone reminded us that Ric Flair had been champion for a year after defeating Harley Race at the first Starrcade. This wasn't technically true. Flair had dropped and regained the belt a bunch of times over the course of the year, but apparently, none of those occasions counted.

Anyway, The Nature Boy warned The American Dream that he better be half the man he claimed to be when they stepped in the ring tonight.

National Wrestling Alliance Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Championship
NWA Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Champion ‘Cowboy’ Ron Bass (w/ James J. Dillon) vs. Dick Slater

It’s starting to feel like Dillon is in practically every segment on this show. Meanwhile, Dick Slater used to be dirty but apparently, he’d had a wash since turning babyface.

This was all part of one of the hottest storylines in the company between Dillon’s stable and a gaggle of babyfaces but sadly the heat generated by that story didn’t translate into a quality match.

Though the fans were into it, there was nothing special about this one.

Bass won when Slater got disqualified for putting his hands on the official.
Your Winner and Still Mid-Atlantic Champion: Ron Bass

Post-match, Slater got revenge by taking out both Bass and Dillon.

We then got a brass rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner as a clearly unsteady cameraman tried to focus on the flag.

Keith Larson & Ole Anderson vs. Ivan & Nikita Koloff

Keith Larson was the brother of Don Kernodle.

Know how I know?

Because the announcers mentioned it about twenty times before he and Ole Anderson had even fully reached the ring.

Seriously, this was like the NWA’s version of Rellik.

Speaking of Kernodle. He showed up in a neck-brace to hang out on the apron and wave the American flag with Ole Anderson and Keith Larson who was his brother don’t you know?

The match finally got underway and turned into a good, solid traditional tag team match.

The faces spent the first part of the contest in control, Anderson and Larson taking turns to work over Ivan Koloff's arm until The Russian Bear turned the tides for his team with a Greco-Roman eye poke.

From there, we got bear hugs aplenty and some enjoyable action before Ivan picked up the win for his team by blasting Larson with a chain behind the referee’s back.
Your Winners: Ivan & Nikita Koloff

Afterwards, Don Kernodle took to the ring and used his crutches to beat the crap out of the Koloffs.

National Wrestling Alliance World Television Championship
NWA World TV Champion Tully Blanchard (w/ James J. Dillon) vs. Ricky Steamboat

Both men had put up $10,000. Winner takes all.

Well, this was excellent.

Proving that consistent selling really is a lost art these days, Ricky Steamboat came into the match with his injuries and sold them well from bell to bell in the kind of way that you just do t see today.

When he did get control of the match, he proved why he was one of the greatest of his generation With some outstanding work. Tully Blanchard was no slouch either and played his role perfectly.

That included being the devious heel champion who blasted his opponent in the head with a discreet International Object to retain his title.
Your Winner and Still TV Champion: Tully Blanchard

National Wrestling Alliance United States Championship
NWA US Champion Wahoo McDaniel vs. Superstar Billy Graham

In direct contrast to the previous match, this wasn’t very good at all.

Superstar Billy Graham looked nothing like you remember Superstar Billy Graham looking like. He looked like how Bruno Sammartino looked in the last few years of his life and was apparently doing a weird karate gimmick.

Wahoo McDaniel was incredibly over, but even his popularity did nothing for the match.

Wahoo won with a tomahawk chop but the whole thing was not fun.
Your Winner and Still US Champion: Wahoo McDaniel

Out in the dressing room, Tony Schiavone interviewed Smokin’ Joe Frazier and two men who would be the judges for our main event.

It was hard to tell if Frazier was drunk, bored, or had taken one too many punches to the head, but his interview comments made him sound dumb.

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

Special Guest Referee: Smokin’ Joe Frazier
In one of those bizarre, it-could-only-happen-in-the-80s moments, Dusty Rhodes came down wearing a silver and purple robe with purple smoke bellowing out and Prince’s Purple Rain (dubbed on the network) playing.

I mean, I love Prince, but it but just looked odd for Dusty.

Meanwhile, Flair came down in a hot pink robe that made him look like a drag queen.

The match started off well, got better, and was on the verge of turning into an all-time classic...

...Then Joe Fraizer got involved and the whole thing turned to hell.

Dusty got an admittedly nasty-looking cut in his eye that Fraizer kept stopping the match to check out the eye and eventually just stopped the match, awarding it to Flair.
Your Winner and Still NWA Heavyweight Champion: Ric Flair

If that had happened today there'd be very loud "BULLSH*T" chants and possible riots.

Post-Match Interviews

Backstage, Ric Flair told Tony Schiavone that he only cared about two things:

The title and his million-dollar cheque. He had both and was therefore happy.

After cutting to Sollie and Caudle, Schiavone then caught up with a very angry Dusty Rhodes who was unsurprisingly irritated at both Flair and Fraizer.

Finally, after the post-show credits, Fraizer himself cut another sloppy-arse promo in which he defended his terrible decision making.







Starrcade 1983 had been both historically important and critically acclaimed. Starrcade 1984 was neither.

Sure, only the Graham/McDaniel match was flat-out bad, but outside of the Blanchard/Steamboat match and the first two-thirds of the main event, nothing was particularly memorable. Then there was that ending, which was both infuriating and insulting.

Seriously, Starrcade 84 is not a show you necessarily need to spend any time with.



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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.