April 21, 2012
Scott Criscuolo & Justin Rozzero
The Place to Be

Starrcade 1983: A Flair for the Gold
November 24, 1983
Greensboro Coliseum
Greensboro, NC
Attendance: 15,447
Announcers: Gordon Solie & Bob Caudle

1) The Assassins vs. Rufus R. Jones (Carey Lloyd) & Bugsy McGraw (Michael Davis)

Fun Fact: Rufus R. Jones spent most of his career in the Missouri promotion, but like many wrestlers of the time, traveled around to various promotions. After retirement, Jones spent time as a security guard and also opened his own restaurant in Kansas City. He would pass away in 1993 from a heart attack.

Fun Fact II: Bugsy McGraw was a well-decorated star that was an NWA mainstay throughout his career, also spending time in Australia and Canada. This is his only NWA Supercard appearance. He would settle into retirement, but returned to the mainstream with a run in TNA in 2009 as Mick Foley’s head of security.

Fun Fact III: Throughout the years, a handful of various wrestlers portrayed the Assassins. The team originated in 1961 in Georgia and was comprised of Jody Hamilton and Tom Renesto. They would travel the nation as a team until Renesto retired in 1974. Hamilton would team with a variety of different partners under the golden masks until the early 1980s, when he arrived in Jim Crockett Promotions and took on Hercules Hernandez as his newest partner. It was Hamilton and Hernandez under the masks at this show.

Fun Fact IV: Paul Jones began an in ring career in the Mid-Atlantic area in 1963. He would travel around the county, eventually ending up in JCP, where he won multiple titles. By the early 1980s, Jones transitioned into a manager and he accompanies the Assassins here.

Result: Assassins d. Jones & McGraw when an Assassin rolls up McGraw at 8:12

Scott: The Greensboro Crowd is already buzzing as we start the show. Rufus was the Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Champion at this time and Paul Jones was a big time heel manager for his masked team. Caudle and Solie were a unique team because in those days of the NWA they would get wrestlers and announcers from various promotions working with Crockett, and Solie was the #1 announcer in Florida. So at times the analysis was very generic as both guys weren’t totally keen on the storylines going on at that time. The match is pretty basic with some chicanery at the end to win it for the Assassins. The highlight is Solie completely butchering a rookie Tony Schiavone’s name. Grade: 2

Justin: And our trek through Jim Crockett Promotions officially kicks off with the inaugural Starrcade. Right out of the gate, Gordon Solie brings the goods by bringing us extensive details on the backgrounds of the teams in this match. Another staple of the NWA during this period were the hot crowds, which is evident here with this opener. I really enjoyed Bugsy McGraw in this match, as he gets off to a hot start and really brought the energy in the ring. Too bad this will be the only time we will see him in our reviews as his unique look and style were fun to watch. The Assassins would wear down McGraw and Jones with some basic heel work and eventually pick up the win with a flash pin to some strong heat. This was a fine opener that saw Bugsy look the strongest, but the Assassins pick up a win and, along with their manager Paul Jones, would enter into a long running storyline after this show. Grade: 1.5

2) Kevin Sullivan & Mark Lewin vs. Scott McGhee (Gary Portz) & Johnny Weaver (Ken Weaver)

Fun Fact: Kevin Sullivan began his career in the Gulf Coast territory of the NWA in the early 70s. He would move around the country, including a very brief stint in the WWWF. After spending time in San Francisco, Georgia and Florida, Sullivan would turn heel and have a good run in Memphis, teaming with Jimmy Hart and Wayne Ferris in a feud with Jerry Lawler. He would head back to Florida, where he would gain his biggest fame, but makes a stop here for JCP’s supershow.

Fun Fact II: Mark Lewin began a lengthy career in the early 1950s as a headliner in New York and Chicago alongside partner Don Curtis. He eventually turned heel and moved to Australia and New Zealand, where he would experience a great deal of success. Upon returning to the States, he would compete in Detroit and Vancouver and eventually headed south to hook up with JCP.

Fun Fact III: Scott McGhee spent the majority of his early career in Florida before eventually returning to the Carolinas in time for this event. After his stay in JCP, McGhee went cross-country to work in Portland for a bit before returning to Florida. He would win the Florida Heavyweight title before again leaving, this time for Great Britain. In 1987, he returned to the US, working Florida, Mid-Atlantic and Calgary before suffering a career-ending stroke in 1988. After retiring, McGhee entered a career in nursing.

Fun Fact IV: Johnny Weaver began wrestling in the 1960s and would spend his career appearing in multiple territories and winning many titles. He would eventually settle in Mid-Atlantic in the late 70s, taking on the role of a wily veteran that helped break in younger stars in addition to performing commentary duties. Weaver would eventually leave Mid-Atlantic in 1988, but before hanging it up, he did have a brief run in JCP as Dusty Rhodes’ backup in his feud with Lex Luger in late 1987. He eventually become a deputy sheriff in North Carolina and after a nineteen-year career in law enforcement, he passed away from natural causes in 2008.

Fun Fact V: Gary Hart started his wrestling career in the early 1960s in Illinois and Wisconsin. He transitioned to manager later in the decade and eventually took over as booker of WCCW in the late 70s. Hart is credited with the big time success of that promotion during the 80s, both as a booker and for his tremendous managerial work. He left WCCW in 1983 due to a pay dispute, hooking up with Mid Atlantic and Georgia as a manager. He returned to Texas in 1984, but will pop up in JCP later in the decade. He accompanies Sullivan and Lewin here.

Result: Lewin & Sullivan d. McGhee & Weaver when Lewin pins Weaver after a knee drop off the top rope at 6:42

Scott: This match is made up primarily of guys from the Florida promotion but the crowd knows who they are and they boo Gary Hart’s team vociferously. Johnny Weaver looked a lot like Killer Kowalski. This was another match that’s pretty straight forward as Sullivan & Lewin use their evil wiles to get the victory. Sullivan’s crew in Florida was pretty vicious and evil; in fact many say that Sullivan never totally reached that high a sinister level again. Sure he would last many more years, but in Florida with Bundy, Jake Roberts and others he was at his creepiest. The crowd levels off here because they know there are more intense battles on the horizon. Grade: 2

Justin: Our second bout is another tag match, this time featuring four wrestlers that weren’t quite JCP mainstays, but rather stars just passing through the area for the show, which was the norm for the time period. Of the four, Kevin Sullivan would gain the most notoriety for modern fans, but here he had not yet fully broken out on a national scale. Mark Lewin had been around for a long time, and was one of Sullivan’s cohorts in Florida. Lewin and Johnny Weaver were clearly on the back end of their careers, but I thought that added to the nice mix of talent here, with the two aged veterans teaming with the young guns on the big stage. After a basic start, the heels took over and put on a good show of heel offense, mixed in with some really well timed comebacks. For a match that included two older guys, the bout really had a good pace to it and Sullivan and Lewin would eventually grab the win, but the real fun came after the match. McGhee tried to fight both heels off, but Gary Hart hopped in the ring and broke out a weapon, which his charges used to beat McGhee bloody. Angelo Mosca would make the save and help clear the ring, but the damage was done and McGhee was a bloody mess. This was another enjoyable tag bout that saw the classic tag style worked nicely by some true professionals. Grade: 1.5

3) Abdullah the Butcher (Larry Shreve) vs. Carlos Colon

Fun Fact: Abdullah the Butcher grew up in Canada and began his career in Montreal in 1958. After establishing a reputation as a crazed and bloodthirsty maniac, Abdullah began taking his act on the road, always trying to be sure not to remain in a territory too long so he wouldn’t burn out the fans, and as a result was always seen more as a special attraction than a top contender. He would travel the world, spending time in the Far East, New Zealand, Australia, Africa, the Caribbean and Europe. After a solid run in WCCW, Abdullah headed south to Puerto Rico where he had a brutal feud with Carlos Colon. That feud was brought to Greensboro for a match here.

Fun Fact II: Carlos Colon was born in Puerto Rico but in the early 1960s, he immigrated to New York with his family. He quickly fell in love with wrestling and made his in ring debut in Boston in 1966. In 1973, Colon longed to return home and noticed that there was an opening for a wrestling promotion in Puerto Rico. Along with Victor Jovica, Colon founded Capitol Sports Promotions and began airing weekly wrestling programs on TV. His promotion would be a massive hit and he would bring many big stars onto the island, but Colon himself would be one of the biggest stars in Puerto Rico, mainly thanks to his legendary bloody wars with nemesis Abdullah the Butcher. Colon was involved in some controversy early in 1983, when he defeated Ric Flair to unify the NWA Championship with the WWC Championship, but Flair would win a rematch shortly after. The NWA never recognized the title change, and Flair later said the bout was non-title as he had never agreed to the unification stipulation. Regardless, the WWC Universal Championship was born out of the controversy, a title Colon would hold many times over the coming years. After appearing in the 1993 Royal Rumble, Colon decided to hang it up and focus on training his kids. He would still compete sporadically over the years before finally retiring in 2008.

Result: Abdullah d. Colon after interference from Hugo Savinovich at 4:29

Scott: This is without a doubt one of the most violent feuds in wrestling history. These two men battled and brawled from one end of the globe to the other. Abdullah has no threshold of pain, as he’s ripped his face up, and his opponents, for years. Abdullah was definitely one guy neither Vince Sr. nor Vince Jr. would ever lay a hand on. I like the realism of these feuds, as Solie indicated that this match would not be allowed on the island of Puerto Rico, so it had to be fought “on the mainland”. Unfortunately the match goes only four and a half minutes, when it would have been nice to let this go another four minutes or so and really let them go after each other. I was just becoming a wrestling fan at this time but I remember in PWI the stories and pictures about the violence these two created all over the world. This match isn’t a good indicator of it just due to the lack of time. I guess you younger wrestling fans never knew WWE Spanish announcer Hugo Savinovich was a heel manager back in the early/mid 1980’s. Abdullah wins the match, but I have to grade this low because with a few more minutes it could have been better. Grade: 1.5

Justin: One of Puerto Rico’s most brutal, violent and legendary feuds is imported by JCP to add some cache to their Supercard in Greensboro. Solie comments that this match has been banned in Puerto Rico, which is why it was brought to JCP to go down. He and Caudle also did a great job putting over the depth and hate that was in this long time feud. Living up to his reputation, Abby busted out a weapon just seconds into the bout, immediately jabbing it into Colon’s scarred forehead. These two were bleeding pretty early in and they really took things a step too far, especially Colon, who bit Abby’s bloody gash in a nasty, gross spot. Carlos brought some great energy, and even through he wasn’t a local favorite, it was easy for the crowd to connect with him. He would lock in an impressive figure four to a big pop, but Abby survived it. After a ref bump, Puerto Rican mainstay Huge Savinovich got involved and helped Abby steal the win. This was a fun and nasty brawl but the finish was a little disappointing, as you would expect something really brutal to finish it. Abby gets the win and these two take their never-ending war back to Puerto Rico. This is the last time we see Colon in JCP, but Abdullah will be back in an interesting way. Grade: 2

*** Backstage, Angelo Mosca cuts a tremendously heated promo on Mark Lewin for the brutal assault on Scott McGhee earlier in the night. To really add to the drama, a bloodied McGhee sat slumped next to Mosca on a locker room bench as he cut his promo. ***

4) Dick Slater & Bob Orton, Jr. vs. Wahoo McDaniel & Mark Youngblood (Mark Romero)

Fun Fact: Dick Slater grew up in Tampa and in the early 70s, he turned down a chance to play for the Miami Dolphins to get into wrestling instead. He was trained in Tampa and started his career with Eddie Graham’s CWF. After leaving Florida, Slater spent time in California and Nevada before heading to Georgia, which is where he would finally break out. After spending a successful eight years in Georgia, Slater headed to the Carolinas and began working with JCP.

Fun Fact II: Bob Orton, Jr., son of professional wrestler Bob Orton, Sr., began his career in Georgia and Florida in 1972. He and Don Kernodle would win the NWA tag titles but after dissolving that team, Orton began teaming with Dick Slater.

Fun Fact III: Wahoo McDaniel grew up in Oklahoma and became a star on the football field. After playing for the University of Oklahoma, McDaniel moved on to the NFL and spent time with the Oilers and Broncos before becoming a big star for the New York Jets. Two years later he was drafted by the Dolphins in the Expansion draft and then was eventually traded to the Chargers. Before he ever played a game in San Diego, he got into an altercation with police officers and decided to quit football and get into wrestling. Wahoo had actually started to wrestle in the offseason while still playing football, spending time with promotions in Texas and also with the WWWF while playing for the Jets. After leaving football, Wahoo started working in Hawaii before moving to Texas where he started to catch on as a major star. He would then travel north for a stay in the AWA before hooking up with Mid Atlantic and JCP, where he settled in for a while. He would win multiple championships and would move on to San Antonio and Japan before returning to JCP in 1981. Mark Youngblood began his career in 1980, hooking up with JCP and eventually formed a team with McDaniel. Fun Fact IV: On 8/31, Slater and Orton attacked Ric Flair in order to claim a bounty from Harley Race. Youngblood and McDaniel were buddies with Flair and wanted to get revenge for the attack, so this match was signed.

Result: Slater & Orton d. McDaniel & Youngblood when Orton pins Youngblood with a superplex at 14:46

Scott: There’s plenty of heat in this match as Wahoo and Youngblood were two of the most popular guys in the area, and we all know about Orton and Slater, the paid henchmen of Harley Race who broke Ric Flair’s neck a few months before. Orton and Slater were two tremendous heels that really got the crowd all riled up but were also tremendous workers in the ring and this was the first real top match of the show. Solie and Caudle comment on what I always thought was one of the stupidest rules in NWA history: If you throw someone over the top rope you get disqualified. I never totally understood that rule whatsoever but for me I think it was nothing more than a booking hook to end matches that wasn’t supposed to have pins. This match is really great as all four guys bring their working boots and the crowd is all over it. Greensboro/Charlotte was to the NWA what Madison Square Garden was to WWE. Wahoo was a former NFL player and one of the business’ true tough guys. Some of the little things about this entire show continue to make me chuckle: How Gordon Solie would pronounce suplex “Soo-play”. Also how moves we take for granted now, like piledrivers and bulldogs, were such devastating finishers back then. Obviously the production is rough around the edges as the ring announcers’ mike cuts out so we miss part of the introductions, but back then no one cared. This is also a match that is a perfect example of the difference between the look of wrestlers in the NWA compared to the WWE. Sure there were a few chiseled guys but everybody looked the same: Thick dudes with slight beer guts and tough haymaker punches. Down in the Carolinas it wasn’t until Lex Luger arrived that the look of wrestlers took precedent in the south. After Orton gets the clean pin, Race’s henchmen then break Wahoo’s arm. A great match and an awesome post-match finish as the two nasty heels injure the beloved Indian hero. Grade: 3.5

Justin: Man, what a tremendous heel team we have here in Bob Orton and Dick Slater. They were really two of the best professional heel technicians during the decade and I found myself immediately invested in this match thanks to them. Wahoo and Youngblood got off to a fast start, combating Orton and Slater’s swagger with a consistent attack. These four really had crowd manipulation down to a science and the way they worked the crowd was tremendous, and that included a perfect face-in-peril and series of comeback attempts by Youngblood. In one nasty spot, Orton dropped Youngblood across the guardrail with a backbreaker. Orton and Slater utilized their precision assault during a nice double heat segment, controlling both men at different times. The solidarity of Orton and Slater would prove to be too much in the end and they would pick up a nice win here in a classic, old school formula tag match. After the bout, they would continue to bring the heat, eventually busting up Wahoo’s arm with some nice spots. Unfortunately we won’t see much more of the Orton & Slater team as Orton bolted for the WWF in 1984 and Slater wouldn’t be too far behind him. Grade: 2.5

5) Charlie Brown (James Fanning) vs. Great Kabuki (Akihisa Mera) in a No Disqualification, No Time Limit, Television Title vs. Mask Match

Fun Fact: Great Kabuki began wrestling in 1964 at age 16 in Japan. He would eventually travel west, spending time in JCP, Mid-South, and WCCW. In the early 1970s, he settled in SCW, where he adopted the Great Kabuki persona at the behest of Gary Hart. He would begin spewing mist and came up with an elaborate story of having burnt his face as a child, leading to his face painting. Kabuki and Hart both hooked up with JCP, where Kabuki captured the TV Title from Jos LeDuc on 5/23.

Fun Fact II: Behind the transparent mask of Charlie Brown was wrestling veteran Jimmy Valiant. Valiant began wrestling in 1964 and would end up in the WWWF in the 70s, teaming with Johnny Valiant to win the tag team titles, dominating the division for a while. After spending some time in Memphis, Valiant joined JCP as a face known as the Boogie Woogie Man. During this time, Valiant created an alter ego known as “Charlie Brown from Outta Town” that he used when he lost a Loser Leaves Town match to Great Kabuki in August. Kabuki and Hart tried to exposed Valiant from the start and offered to put the TV Title on the line against Brown’s mask at Starrcade. In an additional stipulation, if it were proven that Brown was Valiant he would be forced from NWA for a year.

Result: Brown d. Kabuki to win NWA Television Title with an elbow drop at 10:35

Scott: When I first starting watching wrestling right before this show, I remember seeing the Great Kabuki on TV. He scared the crap out of me, and of all the Japanese wrestlers that have come through the pike in history, no one creeped me out more than the Great Kabuki. I’m still laughing as I’m typing this because Barbara Cleary’s interview with Dusty Rhodes was completely botched by bad audio, so seeing Dusty get all animated without any sound is pretty funny. Anyway back to the match. It’s obvious that Charlie Brown is Jimmy Valiant who lost a loser leaves town match to Kabuki a few months earlier. Regardless, I was never the biggest Jimmy Valiant fan, but back then as a little nine-year old mark I wanted “Downtown” Charlie Brown to defeat the hated, feared Kabuki. Unlike future Japanese legends like Great Muta, Masa Chono and others, Kabuki was really not in the best of shape; in fact he was pretty chubby. So really it was the aura of his mask and face paint that complemented his chops and kicks. Gary Hart was all over this show as this was his third match I believe on the show. A newer WWE fan would probably think the commentary on this show is pretty boring, but this was how the NWA did things back then. The announcers just called the action, and that was it. There wasn’t usually a heel announcer back in those days either. That started with Jesse Ventura in WWF and probably Jim Cornette in Mid-Atlantic. The match wasn’t bad and Brown gets the win with the elbow drop. Eventually Valiant wrestles as himself again, but not here, without the yellow shirt and black zigzag, haha. Charlie Brown keeps his identity and wins the TV Title. Grade: 2.5

Justin: I will come out and say it from the start: I have never liked Jimmy Valiant. He just annoyed me. His look annoyed me. His style annoyed me. But, he definitely connected with the crowd and got them going, so I will give him that. Here, he is using the time old tradition of donning a mask after being forced to leave time. Of course, the joke here is that it is clearly without a doubt Jimmy Valiant as you can see half of his face, including his trademark beard. On the opposite side was a great heel in the Great Kabuki. The dude was pretty freaky looking and he had that Asian mystique about him which added to his aura. Brown used his wild offense to keep Kabuki off balance, dominating the action for a while. Kabuki used his martial arts offense to fight him off, eventually hooking on a lengthy claw hold, wearing Brown down. Brown’s selling was pretty good, which was a product of his over-the-top mannerisms in general. Then, in what would be a theme on this show, Brown got the win with a quick pin out of nowhere. That is one thing I noticed watching this show, is that the NWA didn’t really have that crescendo build to the finish and it made many of the finishes feel a bit anticlimactic, whereas with WWF you could always tell when they were building to the climax. On the other hand, the NWA style added a bit more realism to the finishes as it didn’t feel as scripted in that regard. Anyway, Brown gets the win and the crowd was pretty thrilled with it. The match was just OK but the energy surrounding it carried and bumped the grade for me. Brown gets to keep his identity hidden and wins some gold in the process. Grade: 1.5

*** Dusty Rhodes is interviewed backstage and he issues a challenge to the winner of the main event World title match. ***

6) Roddy Piper (Roderick Toombs) vs. Greg Valentine (John Wisniski) in a non-title Dog Collar Match

Fun Fact: Roddy Piper was born in Saskatoon and quickly found himself on his own, as he was kicked out of high school and left home as an early teen. He had his first professional wrestling match at age 15 in Winnipeg and became an acclaimed boxer as well, capturing a Golden Gloves championship. After bouncing around a bit, Piper settled in California where he received a major push in San Francisco and Los Angeles, where he became one of the most hated villains in the history of the territory. In 1978, Piper headed north to Portland, where his success continued, but he would eventually migrate across country, hooking up with Mid-Atlantic in 1980. After a solid run as a heel, wrestling and commentating, Piper turned face in Georgia and carried that new persona into the Carolinas, where he began feuding with all of the top heels, including Greg Valentine. His NWA run came to an end shortly after this show as Vince McMahon beckoned and he decided to head up north. It would be thirteen years before Piper appeared on another NWA/WCW PPV card.

Fun Fact II: Greg Valentine is the son of legendary wrestler Johnny Valentine. After convincing his father to let him enter the business, Greg was sent to train under Stu Hart in 1970. Six months later he made his debut and the next year, he moved to Detroit, where he continued to train under the Sheik. After early reluctance to using the family name, Valentine eventually changed his mind and competed as Johnny Valentine, Jr. in various territories. Soon after he changed his name to Greg Valentine, and was billed as Johnny’s brother out of fear that the truth would make Johnny seem too old to be a legit contender. After spending time in Texas and Japan, Greg moved to Mid-Atlantic in 1976 to take over for his father, who had broken his back in the place crash that also injured Ric Flair. In 1978, Valentine moved north to the WWWF, but eventually returned to the Carolinas in 1979. Valentine won the US Title from Wahoo McDaniel on 11/4/82, but dropped the title to Piper on 4/16/83. Valentine won the belt back a week later and also injured Piper’s ear by bashing him in the side of the head with the title. Valentine would eventually lose the US title to Dick Slater in December before heading back to the WWF in 1984.

Result: Piper d. Valentine after punching him with the chain at 16:08

Scott: Now we get to the meat and potatoes of this show, the first of three straight matches that this show is remembered for. Now before we analyze anything, let's clear up a big misnomer. This match was not for the United States Heavyweight Title. Sure Valentine won the title from Piper and injured the ear that led to this match. The storyline hook was that the Crocketts wouldn't sanction such a dangerous match so no title was put on the line. So there's a few DVDs that WWE has produced, the Piper DVD included, that says this match is for the US Title. It isn't. The booking for this match was unique, and quite vicious. Piper tortured Valentine early by whipping him with the chain, tying him up in the corner and trapping him in the corner using the chain as a winch. However one moment the referee is caught in the middle and Piper gets caught in the ear with the chain. That was the opening that Valentine needed and he went off on Piper's head and ear. Blood was pouring out of Piper's ear and he couldn't keep his balance. Both men are crushing each other flush with the chain in the face and arms as both men are bleeding all over the place. Piper wins by just whipping Valentine repeatedly with the chain and hooking his leg with it. Solie says he's won the title, but then he's corrected. These are the kinds of little things that the NWA would do wrong that you'd never see in WWE. In what was probably Piper's final NWA match before leaving for "New York", he takes out the future "Hammer" in a great, bloody war. Grade: 4

Justin: Next up on the card is a match that was guaranteed to be a stiff, hate filled war between two of the toughest wrestlers of the era. As soon as they hooked those collars around their necks, it was really evident what a crazy gimmick this was and how dangerous it could be, knowing how quickly a neck could be snapped. Coming in to the match, Piper’s ear was a trouble spot as Valentine had injured it earlier in the year during an attack. There was good tension early and the crowd had a bit of a buzz going, expecting some brutality. Both men used the chain to bring that brutality, really whipping each other with some stiff and innovative shots. Valentine would also use the chain to viciously pound on Piper’s ear, which began bleeding badly. The longer this one went, the more it felt like a legit fight between two guys just taking turns pounding on each other without abandon. Piper’s comeback was inspirational and had the crowd really going but it was at this point I felt things went a little too long. Piper should have landed the finishing blow to cap off a quick comeback, but instead they continued to battle back and forth for a few more minutes and they almost seemed to run out of ideas at one point. Piper would finally get the win, but once again the finish felt a bit anticlimactic and forced instead of naturally coming out of the comeback. After the bout, Valentine gets some heat back by beating on Piper and hanging him over the top rope by the chain. Regardless of the minor quibbles I had, this was still a sick, stiff and vicious war that met the standards and expectations of brutality these two had coming in. Piper wins the battle, but Valentine is still US champ for now. However, within months both men would jump to the WWF. Grade: 3.5

7) Ricky Steamboat (Richard Blood) & Jay Youngblood (Steven Romero) vs. Jack & Jerry Brisco for NWA Tag Team Titles

Fun Fact: Richard Blood began his wrestling career in the AWA in 1976 under the name Sam Steamboat, Jr. In 1977, he headed south to join Mid-Atlantic Wrestling and Jim Crockett, where he changed his name to Ricky Steamboat. After holding multiple titles and an intense feud with Ric Flair, Steamboat began teaming with Jay Youngblood and together they had won the tag team titles four times heading into this show.

Fun Fact II: Jay Youngblood started his career in Texas under a mask before moving to Portland and adopting a Native American gimmick. He then moved down to JCP where he began teaming with Ricky Steamboat.

Fun Fact III: Jack and Jerry Brisco grew up in Oklahoma and starred in amateur wrestling growing up. Eventually, both men transitioned into the pro game with Jack training Jerry, who was following in his older brother’s footsteps. Jack had a great singles career, winning dozens of titles, including the World Heavyweight Championship in 1973. Once Jerry joined Jack, the Briscos became a dominant team, winning multiple championships and settling in Florida where they became the premier tag team in the promotion. During their time in Florida, they discovered Terry Bollea, who they eventually introduced to Hiro Matsuda for training. Bollea would of course become Hulk Hogan. After becoming mainstays in the promotion, the Briscos would also gain shares in Georgia Championship Wrestling and would eventually sell those shares to Vince McMahon, triggering the infamous Black Friday events in 1984. The Briscos defeated Steamboat & Youngblood to win the titles on 6/18 after turning heel on their former friends, but Steamboat & Youngblood would regain them on 10/3. Two weeks later, the Briscos won the titles back; setting up another rematch at Starrcade to finally cap off what had been a hot feud.

Fun Fact IV: Angelo Mosca was a well-decorated wrestler that had previously had a very successful football career in the CFL, having played in nine Grey Cup games. He was named the special guest referee for this match. In 1984, he would also head to the WWF as a lower card wrestler and announcer prior to retiring from the business.

Result: Steamboat & Youngblood d. Brisco Brothers to win NWA Tag Team Titles when Youngblood pinned Jerry after Steamboat slammed him on Jerry at 12:59

Scott: Our tag title match pits two young lions of the business against two schooled veterans. Jack Brisco is a former NWA Champion, and his brother is a tag team veteran. This is the second major feud that Steamboat and Youngblood have been involved in. Two years earlier they brawled for months with Sergeant Slaughter and Don Kernodle for the tag straps, with Steamboat & Youngblood ending the feud with a win in a steel cage. Here they share top billing on the NWA's flagship show. I couldn't imagine wrestling on that canvas at this point in the show as its full of sweat and dried blood. Angelo Mosca is the special referee, but he cut a sweet promo earlier in the show pertaining to the Orton/Slater/Wahoo situation. This match is pretty good, as all four guys keep the pace going and all men are technically skilled with a bevy of submission holds. I don't remember many Jack Brisco matches, but I know he was primarily a babyface in the 70s during his main event years. Here he's acting like a heel and it looks awkward. Chaos ensues as all four guys just start brawling but the triumphant babyfaces get the three count and regain their titles. Another fun, crazy match that's really juicing the energy of this crowd and show. Grade: 4

Justin: We have one more title match to go before we reach our main event. Steamboat & Youngblood had held the tag titles four times previously, but had recently been trading them back and forth with the arrogant Brisco Brothers. They get a chance to regain them here on the big stage. The Briscos had a tremendous air about them, exhibiting great swagger to help build heat. All four men were as smooth as silk in the ring and the match had a really good slow build early and continued to heat up as the Briscos busted out their well renowned mat work to ground the challengers. After a great double heat segment, the challengers finally broke through and Steamboat & Youngblood would get the win and take back the titles to a big pop. The Briscos attacked the new champs and Mosca after the bell, but Steamboat & Youngblood eventually recovered and ran the Briscos off so they could celebrate. This was a solid match with some tremendous tag work and a big title change. I really thought the Briscos were a great heel team, using their arrogance and veteran wiles to build heat and it was a nice dichotomy to the highflying babyface duo. Grade: 3

8) Ric Flair (Richard Fleihr) vs. Harley Race for NWA World Heavyweight Title

Fun Fact: Ric Flair began his legendary wrestling career in snowy Minnesota, training under Verne Gagne in the winter of 1971. A year later he made his debut and in 1974, he left the AWA for the Carolinas and the NWA’s Mid-Atlantic region. Known for his endurance and boisterous personality, Flair became an instant star. However, in October 1975, things almost ended prematurely when Flair was involved in a plane crash that broke his back. After being told he would never wrestle again, Flair shocked doctors by stepping back in the ring six months later after rigorous therapy, however his in ring style changed from an overpowering brawling style into a sleeker technical style. Upon his return, Crockett immediately began grooming him to be a top star, and in 1981, Flair defeated Dusty Rhodes to win his first Heavyweight Championship. During this time, Flair began to hone his Nature Boy persona, look and interview style. Harley Race would win the title from Flair on 6/10/83, but Flair was officially established as a major player as he headed towards this rematch.

Fun Fact II: Harley Race began his career at age 18 in 1961 in the Nashville territory. As he was climbing towards sure stardom, Race was involved in a bad car accident that took the life of his pregnant wife and almost cost him his leg. As the story goes, doctors were about to amputate, but promoter Gust Karras rushed to the hospital and stopped the procedure. Race was told he might not walk again and that he definitely would never wrestle again, but like Flair, through rigorous rehab, he also proved doctors wrong. After returning to the ring, Race hooked up with the AWA where he became a stalwart of the tag division. After a successful stint there, Race wanted to strike out on his own, so he began to travel from territory to territory to build up his resume and he would eventually defeat Dory Funk, Jr. to win the NWA World Heavyweight Title in 1973. Race would hold the title multiple times throughout the decade before dropping it to Dusty Rhodes in 1981. He would win the title once more from Flair in June 1983.

Fun Fact III: After defeating Ric Flair to win the Heavyweight title, Harley Race put a $25,000 bounty on Flair’s head to avoid having to face him again. He claimed that anyone that eliminated Flair from the NWA would win the bounty. Dick Slater and Bob Orton cashed in on the bounty, injuring Flair’s neck and putting him out of action. Flair announced his retirement and Race awarded Slater and Orton the money. However, it was a set-up by Flair and he returned to action on 9/21, assaulting Slater and Orton with a baseball bat. It was announced that Flair would receive a rematch with Race inside a steel cage at Starrcade in Flair’s backyard. Also, wrestling legend Gene Kiniski was named as the special referee.

Result: Flair d. Race to win NWA World Heavyweight Title with a top rope bodypress at 23:49

Scott: This is the match that this show will forever be remembered, and the match where Ric Flair became a household name on the wrestling landscape. Sure he had won his first world title in September 1981 but that reign was not noticed much except in the magazines and in the house show circuit. Living in the Northeast, I didn't see much Ric Flair on TV in 1983, but then again I was just becoming a fan and I was mostly watching WWF. I didn't actually watch this match until I rented "Lords of the Ring" in 1985. When you're a kid, matches like this are dreadfully dull for the first nine or ten minutes. Now over twenty-five years later I watch the match for the umpteenth time and it really is one of the best laid out main events in history. Here's where you could use some more energetic announcers. Bob Caudle and Gordon Solie are spot on announcers when it comes to pure analysis. However as we enter the mid-80s and the emergence of PPV and television matches, matches like this need some announcers with a little pep in their voices. Bob and Gordon just don't have that. Harley Race was just one of those tough pieces of steak. He had the beer gut going but it didn't matter, he was just one tough son of a bitch. We see one of Flair's first real bloody nights, as his hair becomes the classic orange. We probably could have also used a better referee as Gene Kiniski was so slow and got in the way too much. However this is one time where that doesn't take away from the grade. This was a well-laid out main event with a slow, building drama that grew with every move. Kiniski needed to be told before the match that is was no disqualification and to let the guys wrestle. Then again the NWA had such ass-backwards match rules that nobody could really figure it out. Finally Flair wins it with a sloppy, thanks to Kiniski lying in the middle of the ring like a dope, high cross body and woo! The era of Flair truly begins. The vision of all the guys getting in the ring to congratulate him is a lasting vision in wrestling history. Congratulations to the "Nature Boy" as the new WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION. Grade: 5

Justin: Ric Flair gets a massive entrance here, as he returns home looking to regain his World title. The angle leading to this match was great with Race dodging the challenger to keep hold of title and putting a bounty on Flair’s head. It was classic and effective booking. In the other corner, we had the consummate heel champion Harley Race, who just had carried himself with a star aura. With these two big time personalities and stars facing off inside a steel cage, this main event easily had a big match feel to it. They would take their time to start, feeling each other out and trading early matwork. Solie and Caudle were really good here, providing solid analysis of the angle and game plans of both men. Race would zero in on Flair’s neck with some precision offense, really working the challenger over. It didn’t take me long to get sick of Gene Kiniski as the ref and I thought he really hurt the match as he constantly got between both men and was clearly trying to make himself part of the match, something that just wasn’t needed. Harley eventually began using the cage as a weapon, bloodying Flair’s head by running him into it. Flair would get a big pop for hooking the figure four, but Race survived. A nice series of dramatic near falls followed and any of them would have been a better finish than what we got. After a weak ref bump by Kiniski, he crawled around in his knees and was clearly trying to position himself behind Race as Flair climbed the turnbuckles. Flair then dove off with a crossbody and you could tell the plan was for Race to stumble backwards over Kiniski, but Gene wasn’t in position so Race just fell back awkwardly. It just annoyed me that Kiniski was so heavily involved throughout the match and that they felt they needed to shoehorn him into an awkward finish instead of just having Flair get the clean win. This was a bloody slugfest with a hot crowd that delivered on its promise but I had to dock the grade a bit for the awful Kiniski stuff and the weak finish. Still, outside of that, this was some really good stuff and now Flair is back on top of the NWA while Race’s nightmare came true as he drops the title back to the Nature Boy. After the bout, we get a lot of post match promos from Flair, Race and some other wrestlers as well as analysis from Caudle and Solie. I liked the extended post show stuff as it added a legit feel to the show and helped reestablish Flair as champion and help Race gain some heat back as well. Grade: 3.5

Final Grade:
Scott: A-
Justin: B-

MVP: Ric Flair
Runner Up: Roddy Piper & Greg Valentine
Non MVP: Gene Kiniski
Runner Up: Great Kabuki

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