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 wcw. Show all posts
Showing posts with label wcw. Show all posts

Friday, 29 January 2021

PPV REVIEW: NWA - The Great American Bash 1988 (The Price of Freedom)

NWA The Great American Bash 1988 (The Price of Freedom) - Event Poster
July 10, 1988
Baltimore Arena, Baltimore, Maryland

Over the years, The Great American Bash would go on to become one of World Championship Wrestling's flagship Pay Per Views, a mainstay of their events calendar that was held every single year until their demise in 2001.

It would also prove to be a show with an interesting history.

Though the 1988 Great American Bash wasn't the first event of its kind, it was significant in other ways, being the last National Wrestling Alliance PPV as well as the last NWA event presented by Jim Crockett Promotions (JCP). 

In 1988, JCP was on the verge of bankruptcy and was purchased by Ted Turner. Thus, World Championship Wrestling was born and the next PPV, Starrcade 1988 was produced by WCW though still considered to be an NWA event. 

Anyway, that brief history lesson aside, let's head to Baltimore, Maryland to see what went down at The Great American Bash 1988.







The Price of Freedom

NWA The Great American Bash 1988 (The Price of Freedom) - Jim Ross & Tony Schiavone called the action
Tonight's show began with a simple, old-school opening which presented us with the marquee matches over some typically 80s music.

We then cut direct to the arena where tag team champions Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard awaited their opponents' arrival, all without any of the usual introduction that we'd normally get from the announce team.

National Wrestling Alliance World Tag Team Championship
NWA World Tag Team Champions Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard (w/ James J. Dillon) vs. Sting & Nikita Koloff

The most surprising thing here was that, since we last saw him at Bunkhouse Stampede back in January, Nikita Koloff had spouted a full head of hair and was now rocking a major flattop.

He and Sting made their way to the ring accompanied by a thunderous ovation to the live crowd. After the introductions, Tony Schiavone and Jim Ross finally made their presence felt, with Schiavone informing us that the crowd had literally exploded.

That must've been pretty messy.

What certainly wasn't messy was this match.

With the audience lapping up their every move, Sting and Koloff took the fight to their opponents in an intense opener that only dragged part way through when they worked Tully Blanchard's arm for half a year.

That weak spot aside, this was a fun contest with the challengers dominating far more babyfaces usually do in tag team matches.

After a figuratively explosive closing sequence, Sting locked in the Scorpion Death Lock on Tully, but the time limit expired before the champion could surrender.
Time-Limit Draw

After the bell, Nikita and Sting thought they'd won and celebrated with the title belts, only to be disappointed when Garry Michael Capetta announced the draw.

Jim Ross and Tony Schiavone then attempted to hype us up for our next match, only to be interrupted by the sight of Sting and Koloff kicking some horsemen butt.

NWA United States Tag Team Championship
NWA US Tag Team Champions The Fantastics (Bobby Fulton & Tommy Rogers) vs. The Midnight Express (Beautiful Bobby Eaton & Sweet Stan Lane w/ Jim Cornette)

If The Fantastics win, Jim Cornette receives 10 lashes.

NWA The Great American Bash 1988 (The Price of Freedom) - Jim Cornette led The Midnight Express into battle against The Fantastics
Prior to the match, Jim Cornette got on the microphone to introduce his men. Sweet Stan Lane then returned the favor, letting us know that James E. was the man who sold Mike Tyson his first workout video.

OK then. 

Rather than the bell ringing and the action commencing, Cornette was next ordered into a straight jacket and forced into a shark cage that was hoisted high in the air, which was apparently the only way anyone could be sure that Jimmy wouldn't interfere in the match.

Though all this pre-match stuff went on far too long, you really have to give credit where it's due: Cornette sold the whole thing superbly and was absolutely priceless in his role.

Once the bell finally sounded, the match got underway and quickly turned into a very enjoyable tag bout. There was nothing fancy about it nothing out of the ordinary, it was just a solid wrestling match that was fast-paced for the time period and had nary a dull moment in sight.

The end came when Beautifully Bobby Eaton smacked Bobby Fulton in the mush with a chain-wrapped fist.

One three count later, new US tag team champions were crowned.
Your Winners and NEW NWA United States Tag Team Champions: The Midnight Express

Post-match, Fulton and Tommy Rogers protested, trying to convince referee Tommy Young that an international object had come into play. 

Doing his due diligence, Young searched Eaton and found nothing, only to discover that the chain was stuffed down Fulton's tights. The referee's decision stood. The Midnights were the champions, but The Fantastics were -understandably- quite PO'd about it. 

Exacting their revenge, they waited until Cornette's cage had been lowered, dragged him into the ring, and gave him a whipping with Young's belt.

The Tower of Doom is Imminent 

The Tower of Doom concept is perhaps best remembered from its ill-fated use in the main event of WCW Uncensored 1996, when Macho Man Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan from cage to cage, laying waste to everyone in sight in a dimly-lit and generally terribly presented concept.

That, however, was far from the first time it was used. 

Tonight, we'd see the triple-decker cage serve as the setting for a big eight-man clash pitting The Road Warriors, Dr. Death Steve Wiliams, and the Brothers Garvin against The Varsity Club, Al Perez, The Russian Assasin, and Ivan Koloff.

Before we got to the actual match, however, we first had to wait while the cage was put into place.

In the modern age, this would be the point at which we'd be distracted with some backstage promos or video packages. This being the NWA in the late 1980s, however, we instead got nothing more than a hard camera view of the cage being setup, with one briefly funny moment in which we saw security chasing after some nefarious ner-do-weller in the crowd and escorting him out of the arena. 

Tommy Young -whose job was to operate the trapdoor between the top and middle cage- then scaled to the pinnacle of the structure and spent at least four decades trying to figure out how the trapdoor contraption worked. 

Young looked terrified the entire time and would spend the entire contest clinging on for dear life.

Tower of Doom Cage Match
Ron Garvin, Jimmy Garvin, Dr. Death Steve Williams and The Road Warriors (Hawk & Animal w/ Paul Ellering) vs. The Varsity Club (Kevin Sullivan & Mike Rotunda), Ivan Koloff, The Russian Assasin, and Al Perez (w/ Gary Hart and Paul Jones)

NWA The Great American Bash 1988 (The Price of Freedom) - Precious played an important role in the Tower of Doom cage match
OK, so here's how this one worked. 

Two men would start at the top of the cage while everybody else stayed on the ground. Every two minutes, a ladder would sound and a clearly petrified Tommy Young would open the trapdoor, allowing the men to escape down into the second cage while a new man from each team scaled a giant ladder and entered the cage.

The object was to escape down into the third, bottom cage around the ring. There, Precious would be waiting to open the cage, and the first team to get all five men back to the arena floor would be declared the winners. 

The match wasn't great by any stretch, but it was infinitely better than the aforementioned Uncensored '96 debacle and it was at least easy to see what was going on.

Towards the end, it all came down to Jimmy Garvin and Kevin Sullivan. 

With the cage door open, Sullivan actually pushed Garvin out of it, essentially giving his opponent's team the win. 

At first, that seemed like the most nonsensical finish to a match ever, but then the post-match happened, and suddenly everything made sense.
Your Winners: Team Garvin

You see, this whole feud was centered around Sullivan wanting Precious. So, since she'd been in the ring the whole time, he was willing to sacrifice a win to lock himself in the cage with her. 

As he did this, the other wrestlers brawled around ringside (I think fellow varsity club man Rick Steiner also got involved here) until Jimmy Garvin and Road Warrior Hawk scaled the top of the cage, worked their way down, and rescued the blonde beauty. 

As a side note, its interesting that we're almost 90 minutes into this thing and so far there's only been three matches. To be fair, about 20 of those minutes were waiting for the cage to be set up. 

National Wrestling Alliance United States Championship
NWA US Champion Barry Windham (w/ James J. Dillon) vs. Dusty Rhodes

NWA The Great American Bash 1988 (The Price of Freedom) - Barry Windham (w/ J.J Dillon) defended the US title against Dusty Rhodes
So, Dusty Rhodes had once been Barry Windham's mentor, but then Windham had turned heel and joined The Four Horsemen, leading to tonight's title match. 

Though not very high on action, this was a perfect example of less is more. The challenger received a huge ovation from the live audience for doing simple things like hitting an arm-drag, punching Windham in the face, and dropping the elbow on his head, while the champion used his strength and height advantage to eventually overpower Rhodes.

It was compelling enough to keep you emotionally invested in the match without either man having to overexert themselves.

This was especially the case when Windham clamped the claw on Dusty's head and held it there for the next 18 years. I've seen other reviewers and fans criticize this spot and, admittedly, it did go on a bit long, but personally, this writer found it very entertaining.

Windham slapped on the claw, Dusty went down and almost past out but then got a second wind and threatened to break out of it, only to nearly pass out again. He then got a third wind, a fourth, and so on, until eventually making his big triumphant comeback.

At that point, he threw Windham off the turnbuckles, knocking the referee out in the process. That allowed Ronnie Garvin to come in and turn heel, knocking Dusty's lights out so that Windham could get the cover, the count, and the match.
Your Winner and Still US Champion: Barry Windham 

Post-match, Steve Williams ran in to check on Rhodes. 

Meanwhile, out in the back, James J. Dillon handed Ronnie Garvin a whole bunch of money for his role in the previous match. Garvin did his best Scrooge McDuck with the money then wandered off doing the kind of evil cackle you learn on Day 1 of Heel Wrestler School.

Garry Hart was there too and would be Garvin's manager during his heel run.

National Wrestling Alliance World Heavyweight Championship
NWA World Heavyweight Champion 'The Nature Boy' Ric Flair vs. 'The Total Package' Lex Luger

NWA The Great American Bash 1988 (The Price of Freedom) - Ric Flair punishes Lex Luger with a figure four
For the most part, this was a solid main event based around the simple premise that the champion would have to use his cunning and cardiovascular conditioning to get the better of the much more powerful challenger.

Yet while Luger's strength and physical presence were certainly central to the match, he was far from as one-dimension as he'd become later in his career. Honestly, having only really known Luger from his work in the 1990s, it came as a surprise to this writer to see him throwing dropkicks around and hitting a sunset flip over the top rope.

This, combined with the fact that he dominated perhaps 2/3s of the contest made The Total Package look very impressive indeed, though alas simply being impressive wasn't enough for him to win the match, at least not when shenanigans and BS finishes are at play.

After trading the advantage between them, both men got thrown to the outside where Luger had his head introduced to the steel post on two separate occasions, first by Flair, then by Dillon. The move caused Luger to become busted open, though even that wouldn't stop him.

Back in the ring, the challenger regained control and lifted his opponent into the Torture Rack. The referee called for the bell and Luger leaped into the air in triumphant joy, celebrating what he thought was his big title win. 

Unfortunately, Tommy Young had actually called for the bell because the ringside representatives of the Maryland State Athletic Commission had decreed that Lex would have to lose the match because of the blood loss. This was Starrcade '84 all over again
Your Winner via Complete and Total Bullsh*t and STILL World Heavyweight Champion: Ric Flair

In the ring, Sting, Nikitta Koloff, and others who had joined Luger to celebrate now looked enraged at the stupid decision. It was stupid too. Luger may have been bleeding, but it was a minor cut compared to the proverbial crimson mask we'd seen on previous shows.







All in all then, you could say that The Great American Bash was a decent show dampened by terrible booking. The Luger/Flair main event was very entertaining for its time until the ridiculous finish. I get that it's one way to keep the title on Flair while still making Luger look strong, but there are better and more logical ways to do that.

Elsewhere, the two opening tag team matches were fun, the Rhodes/Windham match was alright for what it was, and the Tower of Doom was interesting purely for the spectacle of it.

Not a must-see show by any stretch, but certainly not one you'll regret watching.



Other 1988 events:
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Thursday, 14 January 2021

PPV REVIEW: NWA Bunkhouse Stampede 1988

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

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

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

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

The American Dream also came up with this:

The Bunkhouse Stampede:

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

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

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

Would he win this one?

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







Let's go to New York to find out.

Welcome to the Bunkhouse Stampede Finals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Right on, let’s do this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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







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

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

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



Other 1988 events:
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Thursday, 7 January 2021

PPV REVIEW: WWF Invasion 2001

WWF Invasion PPV Review
July 22, 2001 
Gund Arena, Cleveland, Ohio

On Monday, March 26th, 2001, WWF Raw came live from the Gund Arena in Cleveland Ohio. It was on that broadcast that Vince McMahon revealed that he had bought his competition and was now the owner of World Championship Wrestling.

It was also on that show that Vince's son Shane - coming live from the final WCW Nitro broadcast Panama City Beach - surprised the elder McMahon by revealing that it was actually he, not his father, who was now in charge of WCW.

Thus began The Invasion - a storyline which wouldn't pick up steam until well after Wrestlemania 17 when Lance Storm became the first WCW star to "invade" during an episode of Raw live from Canada. 

Many criticized Storm's appearances as a sure sign that the company lacked enough genuine WCW star power to make an Invasion angle work, a point that was emphasized when they brought in ECW wrestlers to form an "Alliance" with WCW because nobody wanted to see Shawn Stasiak wrestle every week. 







As lacklustre of a start as it may have been, it nonetheless back full circle, back to the Gund Arena in Cleveland, Ohio for the first -and only- WWF Invasion PPV.

Here's what went down.

The Most Serious Threat the World Wrestling Federation Has Ever Faced

Tonight’s opening video package was pretty awesome. Likening the invasion of a pro wrestling company to the actual events of World War 2, the video interspersed historical footage (including a speech from President Franklin D. Roosevelt) with shots of the big stars in tonight’s show.


Sure, it was a little overdramatic, but when was pro wrestling ever not?

Coming live into the arena, we got the usual crowd shots from both Cleveland and WWF New York as commentators Jim Ross and Michael Cole welcomed us to the show.

This opening also showed us the pretty cool entrance for tonight’s event, with the stage splitting off into two separate entrances for the warring factions. Weirdly, we didn’t see our first two wrestlers using that entrance as the show then jumped awkwardly right to Lance Storm and Mike Awesome in the ring.

Lance Storm & Mike Awesome vs. Edge & Christian

WWF Invasion 2001 PPV - Lance Storm addresses the crowd
We last saw Storm and Awesome teaming up as Team Canada back at WCW Greed. Now they were on the ECW side of the alliance and ready to get the crowd riled up.

If he could be serious for a minute, Storm wanted to tell us all the reasons why the WCW/ECW Alliance was better than the WWF, but they were interrupted by their opponents, Edge & Christian.

What followed was as solid an opening tag team match as you’d expect from wrestlers of this caliber.

Despite a scary spot in the early going when Christian tried to use Edge as a springboard to hit a suicide dive but ended up tumbling arse-over-tit over the top rope, it was a  very enjoyable contest.

Things started hot, lagged a little while Christian played face-in-peril for eight hours, then picked up steam with an exciting finish that saw the WWF guys pick up the first win of the night.
Your Winners: Edge & Christian

Backstage, a jubilant Vince McMahon was seen celebrating Edge & Christian’s victory when Commissioner William Regal arrived to inform him that WWF Champion Stone Cold Steve Austin and Debra had arrived.

McMahon told Regal to give the duo some space and focus on crushing Raven in their upcoming match.

Nick Patrick vs. Earl Hebner

WWE / WWF Invasion 2001 PPV - Nick Patrick argues with Mick Foley
This was WCW referee Nick Patrick’s first PPV match as a competitor since he faced Chris Jericho at WCW World War 3 1996. As far as I recall, it was the first time Earl Hebner had ever had a match, at least on PPV.

Mick Foley was the special guest referee for this one and was, unsurprisingly, the most over person in the match.

It wasn’t a surprise either that this wasn’t very good. It was a dumb kind of nothing, but I’ll give it a pass since Nick Patrick was always pretty awesome.

Sadly, he lost the match when Earl a Hebner just sort of...bumped into him.
Your Winner: Earl Hebner

Afterwards, Patrick argued with Foley so Mick knocked him on his ass and slapped on Mr Socko.

DDP is a Perv

WWE / WWF Invasion 2001 PPV - Debra and Sara 'Taker discuss what a pervert Diamond Dallas Page is
Backstage, Debra and The Undertaker’s wife Sarah bonded over coffee and a mutual disdain of Diamond Dallas Page

While Sarah’s troubles with Page have been well documented, I should probably point out that the reason Debra hated the former WCW champion is that he kidnapped her on Smackdown.

Both women agreed that Dallas was both a perv and a psycho and couldn’t wait until their husbands kicked his ass.

Non-Title Match
WWF Tag Team Champions The APA (Farooq & Bradshaw) vs. WCW Tag Team Champions Chuck Palumbo & Sean O’Haire

Though it was markedly different from the fast-paced, technical-based opener, this was another good tag team match.

Built around power and size, it wasn’t exactly a masterpiece, but the crowd were definitely into it as all four men gave it some serious effort.

After a decent bit of back-and-forth, Bradshaw decapitated Chuck Palumbo to put the WWF at 3-0.
Your Winners: The APA

To be honest, that really strikes me as a missed opportunity to get a hot, young team like Palumbo & O’Haire over and really establish them as a credible threat, but hey ho, on we go.

WCW/ECW Will Never....EVVVVER...Be the Same...AGAIN

WWE / WWF Invasion 2001 PPV - Chris Jericho tells Vince McMahon how disgusting ECW was
Out in the back, Chris Jericho spoke to Vince McMahon and recalled that the one thing he’d learned the most for while working for both WCW and ECW was that while the former was a leaderless, lawless place where the inmates ran the asylum, the latter had a leader who was a psychopath named Paul E. Heyman.

‘You know what the E. stands for?’ asked Jericho. ‘Ewwwww.’

Y2J went on to tell McMahon that Heyman was just as ugly on the inside as he was on the outside, and the two agreed that when all was said and done, the alliance would never...EVVVVVVER be the same, again.

Delivering that last line in unison, both Vince and Jericho were a riot here.

Across the way, Shane, Steph, and Paul ‘Ewww’ Heyman freaked out over their losing streak, insisting that the fate of the entire alliance now rested on the shoulders of Billy Kidman.

Wearing actual wrestling attire for the first time in his career rather than Jean shorts and a vest, the Cruiserweight champion remained calm, cool, and confident that he could beat X-Pac in our next contest.

WWF Light Heavyweight Champion X-Pac vs. WCW Cruiserweight Champion Billy Kidman

WWE / WWF Invasion 2001 PPV - X-Pac battles Billy Kidman
Well, this was easily the best match on the card so far. It was also the first match in which the crowds were firmly on the side of The Alliance rather than the WWF.

Still, despite the strong ‘X-Pac sucks!’ chants, the Light Heavyweight Champion put in one of his better performances if not of the previous several years then at least of the previous 12 months.

After a strong contest, Kidman’s earlier confidence paid off as he clocked up the first win for The Alliance.
Your Winner: Billy Kidman

Backstage, Shane, Steph, and Paul’s celebration was cut short when DDP burst into the room all excited about kidnapping Debra on Smackdown. The Alliance leaders quickly had to get Page’s head in the game ready for tonight’s main event.

Elsewhere in the arena, Torrie Wilson and Stacy Keibler boasted about how hot they both were and how unfair it was that the audience wouldn’t get to see them in their undies in tonight’s bra and panties match. Obviously, both women looked stunning but this was such a cringe-worthy segment that I feel embarrassed just writing about it.

Raven vs. William Regal

Though it wasn’t bad as such, this was a pretty underwhelming nothing match that might have been better used to kill a few minutes on Raw.

Following a few minutes of uninspired action, Tazz (who has been feuding with Regal and Tajiri) ran in and suplexed Regal behind the referee’s back.

Raven hit the Even Flow DDT and that was that.
Your Winner: Raven

Backstage, Vince McMahon got Kane and The Undertaker all fired up by reminding them of all the dastardly things that had been done to them by the ECW/WCW contingent.

Six-Man Tag
The Big Show, ‘The One’ Billy Gunn, and WWF Intercontinental Champion Albert vs. Shawn Stasiak, Chris Kanyon, and Hugh Morrus

WWE / WWF Invasion 2001 PPV - Intercontinental Champion Albert
This was the Invasion version of the ‘get-everybody-on-the-card’ matches we’re family with from Wrestlemania.

It wasn’t terrible or anything, but it was just an average filler match with nothing memorable happening outside of Big Show hitting the Flapjack finisher he was trying out.

After several minutes of forgettable her inoffensive action, Shawn Stasiak drilled Billy Gunn to the mat and draped a prone Hugh Morrus over the top of him.

One three count layer and Team WCW were victorious.
Your Winners: Chris Kanyon, Shawn a Stasiak, and Hugh Morrus

Afterwards, Big Show destroyed the WCW stars with chokeslams and flapjacks.

All Fired Up

WWE/ WWF Invasion 2001 - Shane McMahon psyches up WCW US and World Champion Booker T
Backstage, Shane McMahon gave Booker T a pep-talk, getting the WCW World and US champion fired up for tonight's main event.

Across the arena, William Regal did the exact same thing with his buddy/lackey, Tajiri, getting The Japanese Buzzsaw in the right frame of mind for his upcoming match with Tazz.

Tazz vs. Tajiri

This was an interesting one in that whenever Taz was in control it was kinda meh, but whenever Tajiri took charge it was a lot of fun.

The highlights came in the form of Tajiri's huge kicks to Tazz's head, after which the New Yorker had enough, cradled Tajiri like a baby and suplexed the holy bejeebus out of him.

Tajiri eventually won and the war between WWF and The Alliance continued.
Your Winner: Tajiri

Backstage, Matt Hardy warned his brother Jeff to be wary of going up against hardcore veteran Rob Van Dam in their upcoming title match. As if to prove Matt's point about how dangerous he could be, Mr Monday Night came up and whacked him across the back with a chair.

Meanwhile, at WWF New York, Hardcore Holly took umbrage with a fan’s WCW t-shirt and ripped it off the poor kid’s body, because that’s not a lawsuit waiting to happen.

World Wrestling Federation Hardcore Championship
WWF Hardcore Champion Jeff Hardy vs. Rob Van Dam

You’d have to be pretty dam cynical not to love this match.

Easily Jeff Hardy’s best solo outing to date; the champion threw his body around with reckless abandon in an absolutely tremendous effort.

Vam Dam was no slouch either, clearly giving it his all in his WWF PPV debut before finally capturing the title thanks to a Five Star Frog Splash.

One of the things that made this so good was that it wasn’t your typical hardcore match.

Sure, they took a walk through the crowd and used a few weapons, but this was more of an actual wrestling match rather than your typical garbage brawl, and it was awesome.
Your Winner and NEW Hardcore Champion: Rob Van Dam

1.39.43 - BRA AND PANTIES

Out in the back, an intense Kurt Angle told Vince McMahon that he was going to kick some serious ass, not just for his company, not even for his country, but for himself.

It was true, dear readers. It was damn true.

Bra & Panties Tag Team Match
Torrie Wilson & Stacy a Kiebler vs. Trish Stratus & Lita

Special Guest Referee: Mick Foley

At this point in her career, Trish Stratus wasn’t the accomplished performer she’d later turn out to be and, let’s face it, neither Torrie Wilson nor Stacy Keibler were ever known for their in-ring prowess.

So this match definitely had the potential to suck, but somehow didn’t thanks to the sheer hard work of all four competitors.

OK, so it was hardly a technical classic or anything, but it certainly wasn’t offensive.

In fact, the worst part about it was JR and Michael Cole coming across like pervy old men on commentary.

After a few short minutes, Trish and Lita stripped their rivals down to their underwear and this one was over.
Your Winners: Lita & Trish Stratus

Somehow there’s still 50 minutes left on this show and only one match to go. A small amount of time was killed by the last of our backstage skits.

First, Shane McMahon, Stephanie McMahon and Paul Heyman gave their squad one last pep talk, with Steph screeching at the top of her lungs in a way that was so loud and annoying it ruined the whole segment.

Then, Stone Cold Steve Austin promised Vince McMahon that he wouldn’t be the guitar-playing, cowboy-hat-wearing goofball he’d been on TV for the last few weeks, but rather the hell-raising, ass-kicking Bad MF’er most fans had grown to love over the years.

Finally, after one last video recapping the invasion story so far, we went back to the ring.

The Inaugural Brawl
The Alliance (Bubba Ray & D-Von Dudley, Rhyno, Diamond Dallas Page, and WCW United States and World Heavyweight Champion Booker T w/ Shane McMahon, Stephanie McMahon, and Paul Heyman) vs. Team WWF (Kane, The Undertaker, Chris Jericho, Kurt Angle, and WWF Champion Stone Cold Steve Austin w/ Vince McMahon)

We got a unique start to the match with each side taking it in turns to send a member of their team to the ring.

First came The Dudleyz, then Kane & Undertaker, then Rhyno and so on.  Things remained fairly civil until DDP made his way out and was immediately attacked by his arch-rival, The Undertaker.

This was the cue for a mass brawl and the inevitable arrival of Stone Cold Steve Austin, who immediately began laying waste to The Alliance.

Eventually, things settled down and we got ourselves a standard tag team match in which everyone was given ample opportunity to shine.

It was more or less entirely enjoyable right up until the finish.

The whole match once again broke down into wild and entertaining brawl, with bodies crashing through tables and general mayhem all around.

Then, just as it looked as though Kurt Angle was about to earn Team WWF a victory, Austin turned on him and lay a prone Booker T on top of him.

One three count and later and The Alliance reigned supreme.
Your Winners: The Alliance

Post-match, Austin first glared at Paul Heyman and the McMahon siblings before sharing a beer with them as WWF Invasion went off the air.







Let’s be honest, that finish was poor. I always hate matches in which one guy turns on his partner(s) and joins the very same guys he’s been fighting for the whole match.

Unless it’s done in the way Arn Anderson turned on Dustin Rhodes at WCW Bash at the Beach 1994 (Arn didn’t tag in once before turning) it simply makes no sense.

Why would Austin spend all that time kicking Booker T’s ass only to hand him the victory?

Other than that, Invasion wasn’t actually a terrible show.

Match of the night clearly went to RVD/Hardy, a match that may well have been the best match involving the hardcore championship in the entire history of that particular title.

Elsewhere, the rest of the show was mostly inoffensive but not really worth investing your time in other than for the historical significance.




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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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