April 21, 2012
Scott Criscuolo & Justin Rozzero
The Place to Be
Starrcade 1984: The Million Dollar Challenge
November 22, 1984
Announcers: Gordon Solie & Bob Caudle
1) Mike Davis vs. Denny Brown for NWA World Junior Heavyweight Title
Fun Fact: Denny Brown debuted in 1980 with JCP and mainly did job duty until winning the vacant Junior Heavyweight Title in August 1985. He would hold the title on three separate occasions and would continue to wrestle on the lower card for Florida Championship Wrestling and WCW before retiring from competition in 1997.
Fun Fact II: Michael Davis began his career in Championship Wrestling from Florida in 1977, where he was part of Kevin Sullivanís Army of Darkness. He would eventually move to World Class where he teamed with Tommy Lane to form a well known tag team, the Rock Ďní Roll RPMs. They would spend time in Memphis as well, but when WCCW closed, Davis and Lane moved to WCW where they were used as jobbers. In 1992, Davis moved on to Global Wrestling where he portrayed a loony character known as the Maniac. Davis would pass away from a heart attack in 2001. He wrestles here as WCCW was under the NWA banner at the time.
Scott: Our opener pits two smaller athletic guys to get the Greensboro crowd on their feet. I will always love JCPís cheap rock/pop theme with the cheesy light show. They tried so hard, bless their hearts. We once again have two technical experts on the sticks with Bob Caudle and Gordon Solie. My issues with them were the same as one year earlier at Starrcade 1983. This is a big time show, Mid-Atlanticís showcase event, and these guys just donít have that sizzle to their commentary that could add to the excitement of the show. The match overall is pretty solid as both guys bring a quick, athletic style. That will be key, as many matches on this show will involve slow, plodding guys with Miller High Life guts and Skoal pouches in their bags. Not these two guys. Again weíre still in the territory days, so there will be a few matches where guys are ďvisitingĒ from other promotions. They mostly would come from the Grahams in Florida, but in this case Fritz Von Erich is loaning Davis out from Dallas. The ending is kind of a clusterfuck as thereís an ambiguous pin and the ring announcer botches it as well. Denny Brown wins the title and weíre off and running. Grade: 2
Justin: As this match began, I thought it was a good choice to kick off the show, using the smaller, exciting wrestlers to kick the card off. Davis was a WCCW import that pops up here to defend the Junior title on the big stage. Denny Brown was pretty athletic, busting out some random acrobatics as the match had the feel of a friendly competition rather than any sort of heated feud. Davis focused on the back once he took over and I thought these two worked smoothly together. The finish with Davis taking Brown over with a back suplex, but Brown rolling his shoulder up, was well timed but a bit confusing, as Solie and Caudle didnít really seem to understand it. That seemed to be a trend with Solie and Caudle, in that they often seemed confused and never really got too excited for any of the finishes, making the matches feel a bit flat. That said, this match was technically fine, albeit a bit bland, and could have been a bit better with a stronger finish. Grade: 2
Result: Brown d. Davis to win Junior Heavyweight Title by rolling his shoulder up during a Davis back suplex at 5:38
2) Brian Adias (Brian Gower) vs. Mr. Ito (Umanosuke Ueda)
Fun Fact: Brian Adias grew up in Texas and spent most of his career in WCCW, but did tour the country, competing for numerous territories. He would eventually turn on the Von Erich family, leading to a heated feud throughout the rest of the decade. Adias would turn face again in time for the debut of Global and would wrestle on and off until finally retiring in 1994 for a career in sales.
Scott: Iíve actually never heard of Mr. Ito, but I certainly remember Brian Adias, of course everyone called him Brian Adidas, including the ring announcer. God even Gordon called him Brian Adidas. Once again hereís where using people from different promotions causes a quality problem. Adias is from Dallas. But Caudle is the JCP announcer and Solie is the Florida announcer so neither of them has ever heard of him. Adias is the showcase here and he beats the non-descript Asian wrestler with ease. Grade: 1
Justin: WCCW star Brian Adias also pops in here, and the female sector of the crowd sure did appreciate it, as they give him a very warm welcome. Adias had great energy and fire and worked a fast pace, out moving Ito. They kept things pretty basic and after a smooth airplane spin, Adias finishes this squash and gets the victory. He would head back to Texas after this show and entered into a bitter feud with the Von Erichs. Grade: 1.5
Results: Adias d. Ito with an airplane spin at 4:00
3) Jesse Barr (Ferrin Barr, Jr.) vs. Mike Graham (Mike Gossett) for NWA Florida Heavyweight Title
Fun Fact: Jesse Barr grew up in a wrestling family, the son of promoter Sandy Barr and brother of Art Barr. He spent the early part of his career as a hated heel in Florida, eventually turning face in late 1985. He would move to the WWF in 1986, and take up the gimmick of Jimmy Jack Funk, one of the Funk Brothers, along with Terry and Dory. He would remain a jobber in WWF until June 1987 when he left the promotion and headed to WCCW in Texas. He would wrap up his career in Portland in the early 90s.
Fun Fact II: Mike Graham was also the son of a legendary promoter, Eddie Graham of Florida. He began his career in the 70s, teaming with his father and eventually Kevin Sullivan, before Sullivan turned heel. Graham spent two years in the AWA but in 1983, returned home to Florida. He was competing in Florida at the time of this show, and he and Barr battle for the top prize of that territory on the big stage.
Scott: We continue our trend of showcasing other promotionsí titles as we battle for the Sunshine Stateís top dog. Mike Graham was maybe a notch above Greg Gagne, but nowhere near the Von Erich kids on the wrestling nepotism scale. He wrestled most of his career under his dad and ironically went to high school with, among other future wrestlers, Hulk Hogan. Barr was the heel here and also came from a wrestling family. Being that this from Gordonís backyard, heís more comfortable and the chemistry between he and Bob Caudle wasnít too bad. The Greensboro crowd really couldnít care less here as theyíre used to their guys wrestling. Here was some of the short-sidedness of the Crocketts. Their only closed-circuit location was in Winston-Salem. If they wanted more buys they should have done some closed circuit in the northern Florida area so they can get the show and get a chance to see their promotionsí title match. The crowd gets a little excited at times as this is the first match of the night to actually get some time to tell a story. This must have been a pretty hot feud down in Florida to get over ten minutes of time. We also get a ref bump and the Mike Graham ďno-pinĒ, so you know they put a little something extra here. Barr wins with some chicanery at the end with a roll-up and some ropes for the victory to retain his title. Grade: 2.5
Justin: Continuing the trend of wrestlers from other territories competing on this show, we now get a battle between two of Floridaís top stars, warring for the Florida Title. Graham and Barr worked a mat game early, trading holds and counters but doing so in a very theatrical way to keep the crowd wound up. They worked a smooth fluid pace and it was clear that they were evenly matched up. After a lot of back and forth action and a good battle over a figure four, Graham got a visual pin, but the ref was out. Barr would recover and roll Graham up, using the ropes to get the pin in a classic heel move. This was a pretty good battle and as Scott said, it would have been nice to see this match go a bit longer. Graham was fine for a role like this and he had a good grasp on psychology, which played well off Barrís heel persona. Grade: 2.5
Result: Barr d. Graham to retain Florida Heavyweight Title with a roll up at 11:43
4) Assassin (Jody Hamilton) & Buzz Tyler vs. Zambuie Express in an Elimination Match
Fun Fact: Buzz Tyler began wrestling for NWA Mid-America in the late 70s, spending time there as well as with NWA Central States. In 1982, he even received a few title matches with Ric Flair. In late 1984, Tyler moved on to Mid-Atlantic where he had a vicious feud with Wahoo McDaniel. Tyler would remain in Mid- Atlantic until July 1985, which is when he hung up the boots and retired from wrestling.
Fun Fact II: Elijah Akeem and Kareem Muhammad comprised the Zambuie Express. Akeem debuted in 1978, competing in Florida, Mid-South and Jim Crockett until he passed away from a heart attack in September 1988. Muhammad debuted in 1973 and traveled the world competing for various promotions throughout his career. Prior to passing away in 1994, Muhammad trained future ECW star New Jack. Here in JCP, Paul Jones, who was embroiled in an intense feud with the Assassin, managed the Express.
Fun Fact III: In late 1984, Paul Jones and the Assassin had a falling out, with the legendary heel Assassin turning face and starting a bitter war with his former manager and his Army. Assassin #2 had lost a hair vs. mask match to Jimmy Valiant earlier in the year and after that Assassin #1 severed ties with Jones.
Scott: Here we go again, more convoluted NWA rules. This is an elimination match, with only two teams. Huh? I never thought in all the years that Iíve been watching wrestling that a guy with the name ďThe AssassinĒ would get a big time face pop from the Greensboro crowd. I immediately like the Zambuie Express and they are two big stalking dudes dressed in camouflage. I wished this match had been a little longer as the action was solid and this Buzz Tyler guy really gets the crowd going, although Iím laughing at the same time because he does have ďFootlooseĒ as this entrance theme. They seem to be a predecessor to teams like the Samoan Swat Team and the Sheepherders and being militant and vicious. Buzz & the Assassin get the win. Another big show loss for Paul Jones. Grade: 2
Justin: A year after being a hated villain, the Assassin walks in here as one of the most over stars of the promotion. His buddy Buzz Tyler got an equally big pop and he really did a good job of getting the fans fired up with his dancing and prancing. The faces dominated the huge Express early after a minute or so of squaring off to set things up. One the Express took over, I was impressed with Tylerís selling and mannerisms. I had never even heard of Buzz before this show but I wish he had a more prolific run as he was a cool little 80s character. The match was as basic as it gets, but these guys all brought the energy and actually delivered a fun little brawl. As always with these NWA shows, the finish was a convoluted mess that confused the announcers and fans. I canít understand why every solid match had such a mess of a finish tacked on to it. I guess I was spoiled as a WWF fan as Pat Patterson was the whiz of coming up with great match finishes. Anyway, the Express was nothing special but the faces carried this one with their charisma, selling and overall antics. Grade: 1.5
Result: Assassin & Tyler d. Zambuie Express when Assassin pins Muhammad with a collision and a splash at 5:26
5) Black Bart (Rick Harris) vs. Manny Fernandez for Brass Knuckles Heavyweight Title
Fun Fact: Manny Fernandez had his first taste of success in Florida in 1979 before heading to JCP where he would a lengthy and successful run.
Fun Fact II: Rick Harris began his career in 1975 and used a variety of names before Dusty Rhodes christened him Black Bart in 1984. After spending time in Florida in a team with Ron Bass, both men would head to JCP shortly after. Upon arriving in JCP, Bart was recognized as the Brass Knuckles champion. The title was created in 1978 and in its early days, the combatants would actually wear brass knuckles when competing. The previous title holder was Bobby Duncum, Sr. and it seems as if no title change actually occurred as Bart was just named champion when he joined JCP. James J. Dillon, who was a former wrestler turned manager, manages Bart here.
Scott: More cool 80ís flashback cuts as The Bull comes to the ring to Michaelís ďBeat ItĒ. Actually itís a pretty good rocking entrance theme for a wrestler. Honestly I was never the biggest Manny Fernandez fan as I thought his promos were always kind of flat. In this match we get our first glimpse of a manager that would be forever etched in the wrestling landscape: JJ Dillon. He manages Black Bart here and defending another one of those championships that were probably invented for somebody just to get them in a promotion. You know, a lot of people used to bitch that the WWF should have had more than three championships in their early days through 1997. However I can handle that a bit more than seeing these other promotions, the AWA was also guilty of this, having all these random championships with silly names. Now if this is the Brass Knucks Heavyweight Title, whereís the Brass Knucks? Solie and Caudle are talking as if itís ok to chop your opponent. What? Of course you can. Ugh, this commentary is starting to irritate me. If this were called the Brass Knucks title, youíd think there were Knucks floating around somewhere. So does this mean closed fists are legal? Man, Jesse Ventura would flip out at that. I guess both guysí fists are taped, so does that mean something? Iím sorry I just donít get how this is the Brass Knucks Title. Well they do say thereís no disqualification, so where are the weapons? Come on show us some violence here! Itís the NWA for Peteís sake. We do see some blood from Black Bart but just not as much violence and viciousness as this match for a Brass Knucks title should have. The Bull continues the majority of babyface wins early on by winning this prestigious title over JJís charge. Grade: 2.5
Justin: In my twenty years as a wrestling fan, I donít know if I have ever seen a title as weird as the Brass Knuckles Championship. Well, maybe the Oriental Six-Man Tag Championship that AWA busted out at one of their Superclashes could top it, but its up there. He was only a manger for a few months at this point, but JJ Dillon was already drawing some solid heat at this point as he seconds Black Bart to the ring. Both men had their fists taped, which I guess was playing up the Brass Knuckles gimmick and they took turns just slugging on each other throughout the match. Manny bled first but he made a great comeback with some stiff right hands, eventually busting Bart open as well. Bart turned the tables once more, working the double heat segment that I always enjoy. Manny would sneak in a flash pin and win this prestigious title. These two worked a very basic match but made it work and made it pretty entertaining as they just battered each other bloody. Grade: 2.5
Result: Fernandez d. Bart to win Brass Knuckles Title with a roll up at 7:35
6) Paul Jones (Paul Frederick) vs. Jimmy Valiant (James Fanning) in a Tuxedo Loser Leaves Town Street Fight
Fun Fact: Paul Jones began wrestling in 1968, reaching success in JCP in the late 70s. After a run in Florida, Jones transitioned into a managerial role, where he lead his Army, a stable of heels that would run roughshod through JCP. On the 8/18 episode of Worldwide, JJ Dillon and Paul Jones were interviewed and Dillon said he wanted to help his friend Jones deal with Jimmy Valiant, who had become a thorn in the side of Jones. On 11/10, the Assassin announced that he would be in Valiantís corner for this match, opposite one member of the Zambuie Express.
Scott: Ugh. This match has too many stipulations on it. I still find it funny that someone named ďAssassin #1Ē is a babyface. The match is a squash until JJ comes in to get the win for Jones with a glass bottle to the head. What are with the Jack Lalanne outfit the referees are wearing for this show? Or maybe itís just this referee. Maybe that means I donít have to see Jimmy Valiant again. Grade: 1
Justin: With another match, we get another pair of combatants that kept the crowd up and red-hot. Jones was a really good heel manager and had all of the little aspects of the role down pat. Valiant, on the other hand, was super over with the fans. Why, I couldnít tell you, but he just had a connection with them. This was a pretty big feud at the time and they tacked on a few stipulations to ratchet up the stakes a bit. Valiant got off to a fast start and would use Paulís tie to hang him in the top rope and then took his time stripping him down and pummeling him. Jones would finally get loose and get a little bit of offense in, but he was clearly overmatched. He would also tap a gusher and bled all over the ring. Just when it looked like Valiant had things won, JJ Dillon fulfills his promise to help his friend and clobbers Valiant, allowing Jones to get the win and drive Valiant from the territory. This was a fine little stipulation match that kept the crowd hot and delivered the bloody brawl that the feud deserved. As much as I disliked Valiant, he brought it in the ring and always had a ton of energy. Grade: 1
Result: Jones d. Valiant after interference from James J. Dillon at 4:35
7) Ron Bass vs. Dick Slater for NWA Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Title
Fun Fact: Ron Bass began wrestling throughout the NWA in 1975, eventually settling in Florida in the early 1980s and eventually hooking up with JCP. Bass defeated Angelo Mosca on 8/29 to win the Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight title. This feud began when Bass and his off-and-on tag partner Black Bart jumped Slater and beat him down, turning Slater face in the process.
Scott: How funny is it that one year ago Dick Slater was the son of a bitch who cashed in on Harley Raceís bounty to take Ric Flair out, and now heís a loved babyface against JJ Dillonís evil stable? The Greensboro crowd doesnít care as they give him a big ovation. Unlike the ambiguous Brass Knucks title, the Mid-Atlantic Title is one of the most prestigious in all of the territories in the world. Once again the rules here are retarded, as Slater was going to stomp Bass in the chest and the referee stopped him, giving Bass the advantage. What the hell was that all about? This is where places like the WWF were just so much better than others. They didnít attempt to confuse fans and announcers by letting talent do what they want. They give characters and referees an order and they follow it. Itís not like this referee in the Jack Lalanne suit was going to turn heel or something, heís like eighty years old! The match itself is pretty good, as both guys are solid workers and JJ is a top-notch manager and character whom amps up the energy. From an excitement factor these older NWA shows are indeed fun to watch because the crowds are so loud and excited that they make any match better even if itís a piece of junk. Slater got caught up in the moment and tossed the referee aside, forcing the DQ. I was actually bummed as I was hoping Iíd get a hot finish and a big pop from the crowd with a Slater win. Oh well, I enjoyed the match anyway. Grade: 2.5
Justin: The very active JJ Dillon pops up again, leading Ron Bass to the ring to defend his Mid-Atlantic title. After being a vicious heel the year before, Slater turned face and now was pretty damn over. Watching these shows really make me wonder where Dick Slater went wrong. The guy had a ton of energy and a natural connection with the fans, plus he could work a good match. He really should have been more than he ended up being. These two worked a standard match but the crowd was pretty into it. At one point, Bass hit a really nice bulldog, and then began to focus in on beating Slaterís head and chest to soften him up. Dillon would get involved, but Slater wiped him out to a good pop. Just when he was getting some momentum, Slater tossed the ref down and ended up getting DQíd bringing a disappointing ending to what was a pretty good little match. Bass keeps hold of his gold and Slater is left empty handed. Grade: 2
Result: Bass d. Slater to retain Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Title by disqualification at 9:12
8) Ivan Koloff (Oreal Perras) & Nikita Koloff (Nelson Simpson) vs. Ole Anderson (Alan Rogowski) & Keith Larson
Fun Fact: Oreal Perras debuted in the Toronto area as an Irish wrestler named Red McNulty. After spending time in Japan, he revamped his look and character, adopting the name Ivan Koloff and portraying an evil Russian wrestler from Ukraine. After competing in Montreal, Koloff headed south to the WWWF, where he defeated Bruno Sammartino to win the world championship. Three weeks later he lost the belt to Pedro Morales. He would eventually leave the WWWF and hooked up with the NWA where he continued to have a good deal of success amongst multiple territories.
Fun Fact II: Nelson Simpson grew up wanting to play football but injuries would derail his career. In 1984, he was planning on attempting a comeback with the USFL when he met Road Warrior Animal, who convinced him to try a career in wrestling instead. Simpson agreed, shaved his head and Animal brought him to meet Jim Crockett. Crockett hired him and changed his name to Nikita Koloff, claiming he was the nephew of Ivan.
Fun Fact III: Ole Anderson began his career in the AWA in 1967, before moving to JCP where he began teaming with Gene Anderson as the Minnesota Wrecking Crew. He also spent some time booking both JPC and GCW, but when GCW was sold to Vince McMahon, Ole rebelled and opened Championship Wrestling from Georgia instead.
Fun Fact IV: Keith Larson was stepping in for Don Kernodle, who had been injured by his former partners, the Koloffs. Larson was announced as Kernodleís brother, which is why he subbed for him. The Koloffs injured Kernodle on 10/20 after he and Ivan lost the NWA tag team titles to Dusty Rhodes and Manny Fernandez. Kernodle was badly injured and carried out on a stretcher.
Scott: Before the match we get the National Anthem and then an awesome cheesy light show with Neil Diamondís ďAmericaĒ playing. When in the history of professional wrestling would you ever hear Neil Diamond playing at a big supershow? Ever? Iím actually smiling at the hilarity of it. But it somehow makes the excitement of the next match be amped up even more. Because honestly the one thing the 1980ís NWA had that the 1980ís WWF didnít have was an awesome heel Soviet character. Nikolai Volkoff was nice, but I feel he wasnít taken nearly as seriously as Nikita Koloff was. He was truly a Russian monster. Vince would have a chance a couple years later to snag him, but it wouldnít happen. Just imagine Koloff beating Hulk Hogan down with a chain instead of King Kong Bundy just splashing him at that SNME in February 1986. Hogan vs. Koloff in the steel cage at Wrestlemania II? Wow, that would have been incredible. Anyway the energy for this match is off the charts for those patriotic southerners. Particularly when the Russians came in to the sounds of their National Anthem. Vince should have done that with Volkoff to make him more evil. They were the Evil Empire you know. Itís also strange seeing Ole Anderson as a babyface knowing what he would become just a year later and beyond. The match is again solid as all four guys are good workers. Ivan Koloff looks like he never ages. He looks the same as he did in 1971 when he upset Bruno Sammartino to win the WWWF Title. So far this is the best booked match on the show, with the long resthold effectively getting the crowd pumped up, wanting to see the American heroes attempt to defeat the evil Russians. However some heel chicanery unfolds as during a chaotic moment, Nikita cracks the inexperienced Larson with the chain to get the win. The injured Don Kernodle comes in and beats the Russians down with his crutch to give the crowd something to cheer about. However in old school NWA fashion, the heels come out on top. Grade: 3.5
Justin: With the injured Don Kernodle providing inspiration from ringside, Ole Anderson and Keith Larson look to take out the evil Russians. Anyone that knows my wrestling tastes knows that I am a huge mark for big nasty Russians and the Koloffs topped that list. I loved the whole idea behind the gimmick and the dynamic of their team. The crowd was hot for some US revenge and was rocking as the four men brawled around the ring. That was followed by a lengthy segment that saw the faces work Ivan over, which finally ended when Nikita got in the ring and took things over like the beast that he was. After a heat segment on Ole and a really good hot tag, the faces fought back into it to close the bout with another fun brawl. In the end, though, the Russians get the win when Nikita pasted Larson with the chain. Kernodle gets some revenge after the bell, but the Koloffs got the victory. This was a fun match filled with some great Russian brutality bookended by some fun brawling. Grade: 3
Result: Koloffs d. Anderson & Larson when Nikita pins Larson with a chain shot at 15:28
9) Tully Blanchard vs. Ricky Steamboat (Richard Blood) for NWA World Television Title and $10,000
Fun Fact: Tully Blanchard is the son of wrestling star Joe Blanchard and he trained and worked under his father to start his career. After a very successful run in SCW out of Texas, Tully migrated to JCP along with his manager Baby Doll in early 1984. Blanchard would defeat Mark Youngblood for the TV title on 3/28, shortly after debuting with the promotion. Because he would often get himself disqualified or counted out to save his title, the stipulation stated here that Steamboat would win the title if Blanchard did it again. In addition, both men had to put up $10,000 to go to the winner.
Scott: Around the same time that Hulk Hogan was using Eye of the Tiger as his entrance theme, the NWA uses it for everybodyís favorite good guy, Ricky Steamboat. In all honesty this is a forgotten match in the pantheon of supershow matches. Two real technical marvels that many thought never met in the ring actually did right here at this show. While Blanchard really hit his stride from 85-88, Steamboat was in the WWF. When Steamboat came back in 1989 Blanchard was in the WWF. So this is probably the only time that these two great workersí paths ever crossed. As usual with his feuds, Steamboat is selling an injury, this time itís his ribs after an attack by Tully and the rest of JJís crew a few weeks prior. Thereís a lot of drama and psychology in the match, almost as much as the workrate. Still, weíre dealing with two master storytellers and thatís why they got the second most time on the card, even more than the main event. Tully wins when Steamboat goes for a sunset flip, he pulls something out of his tights and cracks Ricky in the head. Of course Tommy Young is right in front of them and wasnít looking, so for me that kind of ruins the end for me and knocks the match down a notch. Regardless of that itís the match of the night. Grade: 4
Justin: And the run of strong personalities continues, as one of the best heels of the decade struts into the arena, TV title in tow to face possibly the greatest babyface wrestler of all time. I loved me some Tully Blanchard and his dedication to being a top-level heel was what really hooked me in. This was really a great matchup and a good job by the bookers to put them together. Between Tullyís precision attack and Steamboatís top notch selling, they did a good job building up heat throughout the bout. And really, compared to a majority of the roster, Tully had some pretty advanced offense in his arsenal. And he would use that arsenal to focus in on Steamboatís ribs, really driving the psychology of the match. On a whole it was very well booked, with a bunch of near falls making it feel like a true war as it wound down. After some desperation offense and counters, Tully would finally steal the win and Steamboatís money by clocking him with a foreign object for the pin. This was a great match that was crisp and smart and saw both men at their best in their particular roles. Steamboat would leave JCP shortly after this show, but Tully was just getting started. Grade: 4
Result: Blanchard d. Steamboat to retain TV Title and win $10,000 with a foreign object punch at 13:17
10) Wahoo McDaniel vs. Billy Graham (Eldridge Coleman) for NWA United States Title
Fun Fact: Billy Graham began his career in Canada after being trained by the legendary Stu Hart. He would eventually leave Canada and hook up with the NWAís Los Angeles territory, where he began teaming with Dr. Jerry Graham. He would spend some time in Florida, but really built up his reputation in the AWA and eventually with WWWF. He made his WWWF debut in 1975 and was managed by the Grand Wizard. In 1977, he defeated Bruno Sammartino to win the World title and would go on to record the longest WWF World title reign by a heel, a record that still stands today. After dropping the strap, Graham started to battle some depression issues, stemming from his steroid and drug abuse. He would return to the WWF in 1982, but his famous blond hair was now gone and he had dropped his famous Superstar persona for one that was much less popular. He would leave WWF in 1983, heading to Florida and eventually to JCP, where he continued to use his karate gimmick that he cultivated after dropping his Superstar persona.
Fun Fact II: Wahoo McDaniel had defeated Ricky Steamboat on 6/24 to win the US title. A few weeks later, Wahoo was stripped of the belt because Tully Blanchard had interfered in the title change. Wahoo would eventually regain his belt, defeating Manny Fernandez in a tournament final on 10/7.
Scott: After a couple of matches that had some great entrance themes, Billy Graham comes in to ďKung Fu FightingĒ. Are you kidding me? In reality Billy Graham knew nothing about kung fu or anything else of that nature. The steroids must really have started to erode his brain by this point. On the other hand, Wahoo was an NWA mainstay and a big time crowd favorite. The former New York Jet, saying that may have made him an instant J-Fav, was always floating around Mid-Atlantic and the other southern promotions in his career. Actually the way Gordon and Bob are talking, it sounds like Wahoo is the heel? I have no clue, as this is the one match where the crowd is kind of shot and not very vocal. Maybe theyíre taking a breather before the big main event. Wahoo wins with a chop but no one seems to care. Grade: 1.5
Justin: Man, how far had Billy Graham fallen at this point? When he was the Superstar in the WWWF in the late 70s, he was a dominant force with a great look and gimmick. After he had a breakdown, he wanted to shed his old persona and instead came up with this new look, where he shaved his head and became a karate master. Nobody liked the gimmick or thought it was a good idea, but Graham persevered and stuck with it despite very poor results. Despite all that, he was still jacked beyond belief. Wahoo drew some good heat here but it dissipated quickly as the crowd was starting to burn out a bit. They would set the stage by feeling each other through countering simple power moves. Billy would hook in a full nelson but after a good battle, Wahoo got to the ropes to break it. Things went downhill from there, as this degenerated into a plodding power match with a really weak finish, as Wahoo hits Billy with shoulderblock and then just falls down on him for the win. It hurt to see the once great Graham go down so easily. Wahoo keeps his title and this was nothing more than a blah palette cleanser before the main event. Grade: 1
Result: McDaniel d. Graham to retain US Title with a shoulderblock at 4:18
11) Ric Flair (Richard Fleihr) vs. Dusty Rhodes (Virgil Runnels) for NWA World Heavyweight Title and $1 Million
Fun Fact: Dusty Rhodes began his legendary career as a hated heel outlaw alongside Dick Murdoch in the AWA in 1968. In 1974, while in Florida, Rhodes turned face, a role he would stay in for the majority of his career. After breaking out as a major star in Florida, Dusty eventually moved on to JCP. On 6/21/81, Rhodes defeated Harley Race to win the NWA World title. He would hold it until 9/17, when he dropped it to Ric Flair. At Starrcade 1983, Rhodes issued a challenge to the winner of the Flair/Race title match, planting the seeds for this bout. He would receive that title match, with boxing star Joe Frazier as the referee and a $1,000,000 purse on the line as well.
Scott: Here we are: the first match of what would be one of the 1980ís defining feuds. We have the son of a plumber from Austin, Texas versus the guy who has the biggest house on the nice side of town. This match isnít one of the more memorable matches between the two. Probably because there really wasnít a drawn line in the sand here between the characters. When they would meet one year later we definitely have a line in the sand. However Flairís pre-match promo wasnít overly heelish and Dusty wasnít, believe it or not, as sympathetic a character as he would be a year from now. Seeing Joe Frazier as the in-ring referee concerned me because after seeing old fart Gene Kiniski almost ruin the main event of last yearís Starrcade I was hoping this wouldnít end in a big mess. As Iím watching the match Joe Frazier is again pushing guys away when he shouldnít have, not standing where heís supposed to be. I think what annoys me most about this match is that all these years in the NWA weíve had bloody nasty brawls with lots of violence and lots of blood. Then all of a sudden Rhodes has a cut thatís no worse than probably any other cut heís ever had and some guy whoís never been in wrestling stops the match? Poor booking here as they should have just had Dusty lose cheap with Flairís feet on the ropes or some other chicanery. If Dusty booked it, this was a decision he shouldnít have made. Now Dusty goes after Frazier, so really the aura and emotion of this match is all over the place and not their best effort. Grade: 2
Justin: The main event that was a year in the making caps off the second Starrcade. There was a lot of hype here and a lot on the line, with both the prestigious World Title and $1 million up for grabs. Add in a special referee in Joe Frazier and the crowd was buzzing for this one. Dusty would out maneuver Flair early, eventually hooking in a figure four leglock. Flair would escape, but that would set the tone for this match in that Dusty would pretty much dominate from bell to bell. Rhodes would work over Flairís leg and Ricís selling was right on point. Around halfway through this, Joe Frazier really started to get annoying, constantly trying to break up holds like this was a boxing match. It was really bad when Rhodes was trying to suplex Flair into the ring from the apron and Frazier was basically hooked on to them as Dusty powered through the move regardless. Outside the ring, Flair was able to shove Dusty into the ring post, busting him open. Flair would try to zero in on the cut, but Dusty valiantly fought back a few times before Frazier finally stopped the match due to the severity of the cut. Unfortunately for them, the cut really wasnít that bad. Towards the end, Frazier was really annoying, causing the match to be choppy and the crowd to get frustrated, as every time they tried to get into it, he would break the rhythm. Flair retains his title and wins the cash, but he looked weak the whole time as Dusty completely dominated the match. This felt like the first part of a really hot title match but it ends way too prematurely, especially when you factor in the build up for it. In the end, Rhodes still has a valid claim for a rematch because he controlled the whole match but got hosed by Frazier. He tried to fight Frazier after the match, but Joe took off. Flair would later say that he didnít care how he won, just that he kept his title and won the dough. This was OK and fn while it lasted, but was pretty disappointing overall. Grade: 2
Result: Flair d. Rhodes to retain World Title and win $1 Million by ref stoppage due to blood loss at 12:12
MVP: Ricky Steamboat & Tully Blanchard
Runner Up: Ivan & Nikita Koloff
Non MVP: Dusty Rhodes & Joe Frazier
Runner Up: Jimmy Valiant