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

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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 Rock n Roll Express. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Rock n Roll Express. Show all posts

Thursday, 1 April 2021

EVENT REVIEW: NWA The Great American Bash 1988 - Greensboro

NWA Great American Bash 1988 - Greensboro Tour Review
July 16, 1988 
Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, North Carolina

What we're about to review today isn't the 1988 Great American Bash PPV event that featured Luger vs. Flair for the title.

Rather, it's an event recorded from The Great American Bash tour that was filmed and uploaded in its original form onto the WWE Network, meaning no announcers, no exciting opening video packages, just raw footage of the matches as they took place.

If you want to read about the PPV, you'll find that Great American Bash 1988 review here.

Otherwise, let's head down to Greensboro for a night of NWA action.






Rip Morgan & NWA Western States Heritage Champion Larry Zybysko vs. Bugsy McGraw & White Lightning Tim Horner

NWA Great American Bash 1988 - Greensboro Tour Review - Larry Zybysko
No fancy intros or special introductions for what is essentially a recording of a house show.

Instead, we got a cold open with Bugsy McGraw and future Smoky Mountain Wrestling star ‘White Lightning’ Tim Horner making their way to the ring.

There, they were met by Western States Heritage Champion Larry Zybysko and Rip Morgan, the latter of whom broke out the traditional New Zealand Haka while McGraw bounced around the ring like a loon.

To be honest, yours truly didn’t have high hopes for this match but it turned out to be a great deal of fun.

Teddy Long was our referee and he apparently enjoyed himself so much that he’d become a life long fan of tag team matches.

Not that you could blame him.

All four men worked hard to deliver a short, explosive opening contest which ended after Tim Horner finally got the hot tag from McGraw and cleaned house.

Lightning by name, Lightning by nature, Horner scored a flash pinfall over Morgan in seven minutes ten seconds, the official time given to us by a young, moustachioed ring announcer by the name of Tony Schiavone.
Your Winners: Bugsy McGraw & Tim Horner

With two rings set up for our main event War Games match, Ronnie Garvin demanded that his next match take place in the ring other than the one officially designated to him.

There was no reason for it, but Garvin had just turned heel a week earlier at the actual Great American Bash ‘88 PPV so this was a good way to show fans that he was now a Grade A d**k.

Ron Garvin (w/ Garry Hart) vs. The Italian Stallion

NWA Great American Bash 1988 - Greensboro Tour Review - Rugged Ronnie Garvin
For further d**kishness, Garvin demanded that he be announced as a former world champion and then feigned an ankle injury in the first ten seconds of the match.

Of course, this was just to lure in The Italian Stallion so that he could punch him out with his famous ‘Hands of Stone’ before sitting on The Stallion’s chest and beating him in what Schiavone told us was 35 seconds.
Your Winner: Ronnie Garvin

Post-match, Garry Hart lambasted the crowd for daring to boo his man and called them hypocrites.

Dick Murdoch vs. Gary Royal

NWA Great American Bash 1988 - Greensboro Tour Review - Dick Murdoch
There will be modern-day fans who dislike this match for being little more than forearm shots and a headlock, but personally this long-time wrestling fan enjoyed it immensely.

After letting Gary Royal put him in a headlock for the first minute of the match, Dirty Dick Murdoch soon gained the advantage and simply bullied his opponent for the next five minutes.

He threw him in the corner and hit him with forearms, argued with Teddy Long (the only official for all three matches so far), took Royal to the outside and did the same again.

The action was slow and methodical but it really presented Murdoch as a brute and a bully and was far more entertaining than some folks would give it credit for.

At the end of six minutes and 59 seconds (thanks, Tony), Murdoch dropped Royal on his noggin and pinned him with a wicked sh*t-eating grin on his face.
Your Winner: Dick Murdoch

Moving on

Non-Title Match
NWA Florida State Champion Rick Steiner vs. Gorgeous Jimmy Garvin (w/ Precious)

NWA Great American Bash 1988 - Greensboro Tour Review - Jimmy Garvin & Precious
I’m not saying pro wrestling isn’t legit or anything, but it certainly seemed like Tony Schiavone was making up the match times as he went along.

He called this one in five minutes, twenty-five seconds even though it lasted less than three.

Rick Steiner attacked from the opening bell, Ronnie Garvin made a comeback. Kevin Sullivan came down to help his Varsity Club teammate, Garvin saw him off and got a pin from out of nowhere.

It was barely even a match.
Your Winner: Jimmy Garvin

Can you believe that was our fourth match on this card and we’re barely past 25 minutes?

The New Zealand Sheepherders (Luke Williams & Butch Miller w/ Rip Morgan) vs. The Rock & Roll Express (Ricky Morton & Robert Gibson

NWA Great American Bash 1988 - Greensboro Tour Review - New Zealand Sheepherders vs. Rock 'n' Roll Express
Unfortunately, we didn’t get another Haka from the New Zealanders which would have been cool. Instead, we got them pointing at the New Zealand flag a lot and calling the Americans scum bags before Ricky Morton invited them to kiss some Rock & Roll ass.

With the pre-match banter out of the way, both teams engaged in what was easily the best -and the longest- match on the card so far.

Ok, so it wasn’t nearly as long as Tony Schiavone made it out to be (I’m starting to wonder if Schiavone’s watch was dodgy), but it was still a good 14 minutes of old-school tag team action that had the crowds roaring at every possible turn.

Ricky Morton & Robert Gibson were -as usual- insanely over with the NWA audience while Luke & Butch were reviled in equal measure.

That meant that everything they did got a huge ovation, all of which made for seriously engaging viewing.

After battling against the odds (with Rip Morgan running plenty of blatant interference), the Rock & Roll Express picked up the predictable, but nonetheless satisfying, victory.
Your Winners: The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express

Up next, Garry Hart led another man into battle.

Al Perez (w/ Garry Hart) vs. Brad Armstrong

NWA Great American Bash 1988 - Al Perez vs. Brad Armstrong
You know, I’ve never noticed before how much Al Perez looks like he could have been Seth Rollins’ older brother.

Here, he took on Road Dogg’s actual brother Brad Armstrong In a weird match that was clearly designed to give the fans a breather after the excitement of the Sheepherders/R&R Express match.

Things went incredibly quiet as Armstrong took control in the early going, even though his simple approach of working over Perez’s arm was effective.

Outside shenanigans courtesy of Mr. Hart later turned the tables and put Perez in control, at which point the fans really came alive for the first time in the match.

After more decent yet unspectacular action, Hart grabbed Armstrong’s leg on a suplex attempt allowing Perez to fall ontop of just opponent for the Uno, dos,tres.

Bunkhouse Handicap Match
NWA United States Tag Team Champions The Midnight Express (Beautiful Bobby Eaton, Sweet Stan Lane and Jim Cornette) vs. The Fantastics (Bobby Fulton & Tommy Rogers)

NWA Great American Bash 1988 -Jim Cornette
Anything goes according to our man Schiavone, but referee Tommy Young makes both teams go to their corner and enforces tags because logic.

The Fantastics wanted Jim Cornette to start the match but, naturally, the cowardly manager was having none of it.

What followed was a fun match with a hot crowd and a simple story that added a touch of humour to an otherwise basic tag match.

When they were getting their butts kicked, The Midnight Express continually reached to their partner Jim Cornette hoping that he’d tag in, but he flat out refused. This irritated Sweet Stan Lane and Beautiful Bobby Eaton so much that they threatened to punch him.

Naturally, James E. then wanted to tag in when his men were in control and even wanted to score the match-winning pin despite Beautiful Bobby having it all taken care of.

This ended up costing the Midnights the match as the Fantastics kicked out, fought back, and, when Cornette accidentally threw powder in Bobby’s face, they beat him up and won the match.
Your Winners: The Fantastics

This fan honestly expected Sweet Stan and Beautiful Bobby to turn on Cornette after the match, but no such luck.

National Wrestling Alliance World Television Championship
NWA World Television Champion Mike Rotunda (w/ Rick Steiner and ‘Games Master’ Kevin Sullivan) vs. Sting

NWA Great American Bash 1988 - Mike Rotunda vs. Sting
Sting
was easily the most popular dude on the roster so far on this show and was also the only guy to get actual entrance music.

Unfortunately, that popularity alone wasn’t to secure him a title victory despite putting on a valiant effort against Mike Rotunda.

Early in the match, Rotunda’s team mates Rick Steiner and Kevin Sullivan got involved but Sting whooped their butts so referee Tommy Young let it slide.

Then, after a decent match, they got involved again only this time Young had decided that enough was quite clearly enough and threw the match out.
Your Winner via DQ: Sting (Mike Rotunda retains)

Post-match, Rotunda and Steiner began pushing and shoving one another until Kevin Sullivan broke them up.

Skywalker Match
The Russian Assassin & Ivan Koloff (w/ Paul Jones) vs. The Road Warriors (Road Warrior Hawk & Road Warrior Animal w/ Paul Ellering)

NWA Great American Bash 1988 - Scaffold match
Skywalker match = scaffold match.

We were getting into main event territory now which meant that everyone got music, but if you were expecting a bit of Iron Man for The Road Warriors you’d be disappointed. Generic Rock Theme #1234 was the order of the day here, at least on the Network.

As far as match quality goes, this was certainly one of the better scaffold matches the NWA had presented.

It was certainly better than the Road Warriors outing against The Midnight Express back at Starrcade 1986 and better than the second scaffold match we saw back at Starrcade 1987 between the Midnights and The Rock & Roll Express.

This was mostly thanks to the efforts of Ivan Koloff, who had no problem tripping himself up on the platform and pretending to almost lose his balance umpteen times. It was a masterful  job that saved this from being just another ‘dudes stay on the edges of the platform where it’s safe and punch each other until eventually dropping to the ring.’

To be fair, that’s precisely what Road Warrior Hawk and The Russian Assassin did, but at least Koloff made things interesting in his pairing with Animal.

Alas, making things interesting wasn’t enough to win the match.

He and the Assassin both took unremarkable bumps back to the canvas to lose the match.
Your Winners: The Road Warriors

Afterwards, Hawk, Animal, and Paul Ellering all beat up on Paul Jones

War Games
The Four Horsemen (NWA World Heavyweight Champion Nature Boy Ric Flair, Barry Windham, NWA World Tag Team Champions Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard, and James J. Dillon) vs. Lex Luger, Dusty Rhodes, Paul Ellering, Dr. Death Steve Williams, and Nikita Koloff

This was a solid match well worthy of main event status and, despite getting pretty chaotic once the ring filled up, remained compelling from start to finish.

Dusty Rhodes and Arn Anderson kicked things off and both bladed within about two minutes because of course, why wouldn’t they?

From there, more bodies entered at regular intervals to create a wildly entertaining brawl that raged on all the way through to The Match Beyond where Rhodes finally put James J. Dillon in  a figure four to win the match.
Your Winners: Dusty Rhodes, Lex Luger, Nikita Koloff, Steve Williams, and Paul Ellering

Post-match, the triumphant heels walked off into the sunset while the Four Horsemen checked on their fallen comrade.







For the most part, the Greensboro stop on the Great American Bash 1988 tour was better than it perhaps looks on paper. While only a few bouts really stood out as anything special (Sheepherders vs. Rock & Roll Express, Fantastics vs. Midnights and the main event War Games match), everything else was at least decent enough to make watching this show an enjoyable experience.

Personally, I would have liked WWE to have brought in some guys to record a commentary track in order to enhance the overall presentation of this event, but that’s a small niggle that takes nothing away from what was generally an OK show all-round.



Other 1988 events:
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Thursday, 31 December 2020

PPV REVIEW: NWA Starrcade 87 - Chi-Town Heat

NWA Starrcade 1987 - Event poster
November 26, 1987
IC Pavilion, Chicago, Illinois

Despite being pro wrestling's premier event a good two years before Wrestlemania, Starrcade didn't actually make it's way until PPV until this, the 1987 event.

Not only was Starrcade '87 the first NWA PPV, it was also the first Starrcade to emanate from a single venue since Greensboro exclusively hosted the 1984 event.

Yet as interesting as those two 'firsts' happen to be, neither happened to be as historically significant as another first:
This was the first NWA Starrcade to take place since Jim Crockett promotions bought out the original Universal Wrestling Federation.

That was a big deal, because in buying the UWF, the brand brought across a number of big name stars, including the future face of the company, a man called Sting.

Of course, even with the lure of PPV and major stars, Starrcade 1987 would be a failure from a financial standpoint as Vince McMahon promoted the first annual Survivor Series on the same night just to stick to it to the NWA.

Still, that didn't mean that the show couldn't deliver from a creative and in-ring standpoint.

Here's what went down when the National Wrestling Alliance turned up the Chi-Town Heat.







Welcome to Starrcade

NWA Starrcade 1987 - Jim Ross & Tony Schiavone called the event
First things first, tonight’s show marks the first PPV to feature the one and only Jim Ross on commentary.

Years before the two would serve as the lead announcers for rival brands at during the Monday Night Wars (and certainly years before things came full circle with them reunited under the AEW banner), JR joined forces with Tony Schiavone to welcome us to tonight’s event and call the action.:
The two talked about the nights five title matches before we went to the ring for yet more NWA PPV debuts.

Six-Man Tag Team Match Rick Steiner, ‘Hot Stuff’ Eddie Gilbert and Larry Zybysko (w/ Baby Doll) vs. Sting, Michael P.S Hayes, and ‘Gorgeous’ Jimmy Garvin (w/ Precious)

NWA Starrcade 1987 - A Man Called Sting
Yep, only Jimmy Garvin, Precious and Baby Doll had appeared at Starrcade before, making this the first time we’d seen Sting, Michael Hayes, Eddie Gilbert, Larry Zybysko, and Rick Steiner on a major NWA show. Also, you know what I miss? Sting‘a bad ass rat tail.

Anyway, all that aside, this was probably the best opening match on a Starrcade show so far.

Whereas most Starrcde openingbouts upto this point had been heavy on the weardown holds and submissions, this was pretty much non-stop action from the moment the bell rang to the moment the whole thing was ruled a draw due to the time-limit expiring. A great match given the standards of the time, this was a lot of fun.
Time Limit Draw


NWA Starrcade 1987 - Missy Hyatt said she was there to do interviews but never appeared again
After some post-match analysis from Ross and Schiavone, we went backstage where Missy Hyatt told us that she was standing by ready to interview the stars of tonight’s show.

Missy was lying though. We neither see nor hear from her for the rest of the event.

Universal Wrestling Federation Championship
UWF Champion Dr. Death Steve Williams vs. NWA Western States Herritage Champion Barry Windham

In the mid-1980s Bill Watts tried to take his Mid-South Wrestling promotion national by rebranding it as the Universal Wrestling Federation. This failed, and the company was sold to Jim Crockett Promotions who decided to keep the UWF title.

Here, Dr. Death Steve Williams defended that title against his buddy Barry Windham in a match that the crowd absolutely hated but which this writer thought was a decent face vs. face match.

Ignoring the obvious disdain and loud ‘boring’ chants coming from the audience, the two looked as if they were genuinely trying to out-wrestle one another. Not hurt each other. Not even necessarily beat each other, just out-wrestle each other.

While it wasn’t poor, the crowd took a dump all over it only popped once, when Steve Williams tried a leapfrog but went bollocks-first into Barry Windham’s head.

Ever the good sport, Windham gave his friend time to recover, but Williams didn’t repay the favour. When Barry got knocked to the outside, he climbed back in the ring but got immediately rolled up and pinned by the champion.
Your Winner and Still UWF Champion: Steve Williams

Up next, a maybe that has been universally derided over the years

Skywalkers MatchNWA United States Tag Team Champions The Midnight Express (Beautiful Bobby Eaton & Sweet Stan Lane w/ Jim Cornette and Big Bubba Rogers) vs. The Rock & Roll Express (Ricky Morton & Robert Gibson)

NWA Starrcade 1987 - The Midnight Express faced The Rock 'n' Roll Express in a scaffold match
The biggest criticism people seem to have of this scaffold match is that The Midnight Express and The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express were capable of having great wrestling matches but sticking them
on a narrow platform twenty feet in the air removed that capability and forced them to do very little.

That’s a fair argument, but you have to wonder if those who criticise this match have seen the atrocity that was the Starrcade ‘86 scaffold match between The Midnights and The Road Warriors.

Compared to that match, this match was a five-star classic.

OK, so it would have still been infinitely better if they’d just been allowed to wrestle, and OK, a scaffold match really was the worst idea of all time, but this was still more exciting than the 1986 version thanks to some Big Bubba Rogers interference, the use of Jim Cornette’s tennis racket, and the overwhelming popularity of Ricky Morton & Robert Gibson.

Naturally, the good guys won after Bobby Eaton and Stan Lane hung on the underside of the platform and took very careful bumps to the canvas.

The crowd didn’t care about that. They didn’t care how little action there’d been. They loved Ricky & Robert and went crazy for them.
Your Winners: The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express

Afterwards, Big Bubba Rogers climbed up the platform and challenged Ricky Morton to a fight. Hilariously, Morton smacked Rogers in the balls and ran off.

I’m still laughing at that just thinking about it.

A (Really Long) Word With Gorgeous Jimmy

NWA Starrcade 1987 - Jimmy Garvin (w/ Precious)
Out in the back, Bob Caudle stood by for an interview with Gorgeous Jimmy Garvin and Michael P.S Hayes, who weren’t officially wrestling as The Fabulous Freebirds at this point.

With Precious by his side, Garvin did all the talking for his team, and man did he talk.

This was a really long, but really enjoyable promo in which he ran down most of the card and spoke in depth (and I mean in *serious* depth) about the matches that mattered most to him.

First, he warned us that he and Hayes would be challenging the winners of the upcoming Road Warriors/Horsemen clash for the tag team titles. Then he turned his attention to his kayfabe brother Ronnie Garvin, who would be defending the World Heavyweight Championship against Nature Boy Ric Flair later on in the show.

After turning face by saving Ronnie from an attack by Jim Cornette and The Midnight Express, Jimmy was all about his brother retaining the gold tonight.

Dr. Death - The Wrestling Machine

This was followed by Caudle interviewing Steve Williams. Far less entertaining than Garvin, the UWF stumbled his way through a shouty, clumsy promo in which he told us that he was the Wrestling Machine of the Year, as if somebody had given him an award.

After putting over Barry Windham, Williams then told us he was the Wrestling Machine of the World, which I suppose made a little bit more sense.

Finally, the Wrestling Machine of the Year of the World promised to defend his UWF title forever. Unbeknownst to him, the belt would be deactivated a few weeks later.

World Television Championship Title Unification MatchUWF World Television Champion Terry Taylor (w/ Hot Stuff Eddie Gilbert) vs. NWA Television Nikita Koloff

NWA Starrcade 1987 - Nikita Koloff battled Terry Taylor in a TV title unification match
There was a point early in this match when your reviewer was tempted to write this whole thing off as one long arm bar.

Thankfully, I stuck with it, because as soon as Terry Taylor took control of the match it got better and better, giving us some of the best professional wrestling seen on a Starrcade show so far.

There will be some critics who say that this nigh-on 20 minute match went too long, but that’s not the case here. The first half dragged, sure, but the second half was wonderful.

To the surprise of no one, fan-favourite and NWA star Nikita Koloff defeated the villainous UWF TV champion Taylor to win the match and unify the gold.
Your Winner and Unified TV champion: Nikita Koloff
Moving swiftly on...

National Wrestling Alliance World Tag Team Championship NWA Tag Team Champions Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard (w/ James J. Dillon) vs. The Road Warriors (Road Warrior Hawk & Road Warrior Animal w/ Paul Ellering)

NWA Starrcade 1987 - The Road Warriors faced Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard for the tag team titles
Take a red hot crowd, the pure spectacle of a dominant power team like The Road Warriors and the talent of two performers like Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard, and what you’ve got is a recipe for an excellent tag team match.

Pure fun from start to finish, this one was at its best when Anderson and Blanchard were selling for their challengers, not just selling but really making Hawk and Animal look like the scariest, baddest dudes in all of pro wrestling.

That said, it was still pretty entertaining even when the champions were in charge.
In fact, the only disappointing aspect was the finish.

Blanchard knocked referee Tommy Young to the outside. The LOD hurled Anderson over the top rope and hit Blanchard with the Doomsday Device. Earl Hebner ran in and counted the pin, but Young argues that he’d seen Anderson get thrown over the ropes and since that was naughty, he was giving the win to the champs.
Your Winners via DQ and Still Tag Team Champions: Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard

Backstage, Jack Gregory and Magnum T.A. ran down tonight’s card before sending it to Bob Caudle for some interviews.
NWA Starrcade 1987 - Jack Gregory interviews Magnum TA

First up, Nikita Two Belts put over Terry Taylor before boasting about how good it made his heart feel to be the unified TV champion. Next on Koloff’s list of goals was to become our new TV champion.

Then, James J. Dillon admitted that whilst he was glad Arn & Tully we’re still the champs and he had been helping Flair train for his title match, he had mostly been focusing on Lex Luger facing Dusty Rhodes for the US title.

Both promos were pretty effective in their own way, even if Nikita’s was the more entertaining of the two.

Steel Cage Match for the National Wrestling Alliance United States Championship NWA US Champion Lex Luger (w/ J.J. Dillon) vs. Dusty Rhodes

If Dusty Rhodes loses, he can’t wrestle in the US again for 90 days

My goodness, this was insanely boring.


NWA Starrcade 1987 - Dusty Rhodes faced Lex Luger in a really boring cage match
Early on, Dusty Rhodes decided that the best way to really sell the violence and intensity of a steel cage match was to stand in the middle of the ring holding Luger in an arm bar for eight thousand hours.

Luger then made a comeback and decided that since the arm bar had worked so well on him, he was going to use it too.

Dusty bladed because of course he did, but to be honest I’m not even sure how it happened. The whole match was so deathly dull that I sort of passed out and missed that.

Rhodes won the title, but I’m honestly not sure why everybody sung the guy’s praises so much. We’re now on the fourth Starrcade show and I’ve still yet to see him do anything entertaining.
Your Winner and NEW US Champion: Dusty Rhodes
And finally, ladies and gentlemen, your main event of the evening.

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

NWA Starrcade 1987 - Ric flair taunts World Champion Ronnie Garvin with a WOOOO!
Ronnie Garvin’s brief 1987 run with the NWA World Heavyweight Championship has been universally panned over the years. Even on the night, the Chicago crowd loudly booed the babyface champion’s offence and greeted him with loud ‘GARVIN SUCKS’ chants.

But Garvin didn’t suck. At least not on this night.

He and Flair went at it in what was easily the best Starrcade main event since Flair was last in the challenger role back at the inaugural event in 1983.

It was an intense fight with Flair at his best -as he always was- when getting his ass kicked. Even then, the crowd wanted him to win and went nuts when he finally wrapped up Garvin and pinned him.
Your Winner and NEW World Heavyweight Champion: Ric Flair

Afterwards, Flair celebrated with his title before Schiavone and Ross closed the show and sent us to a highlights package.






On the whole, Starrcade 86 was a good show. Sure, the Rhodes/Luger thing was enough to put anyone to sleep, and not every match was a classic, but the TV, tag team, and world title matches were very enjoyable and worth watching. For this fan, the best thing about this show was that it finally felt like it had all the NWA/WCW stars that are so synonymous with the brand. As well as Flair, we saw Sting, Luger, The Road Warriors, Rick Steiner, The Freebirds, all the classic stars. In other words, this is a good one to watch.





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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.




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.