April 6, 2010
The Powerdriver Review
NWA Starrcade 1986: Night of the Skywalkers
November 27, 1986
Atlanta, GA & Greensboro, NC
The Omni & Greensboro Coliseum
Review based on the home video release
In the Crockett/McMahon wars, this would be “the battle for who can book the better multi-location show: NWA’s second shot.” I have the commercial version so some of (if not all) the matches are clipped and some matches were cut entirely from the tape. Don’t worry though; you’re not missing any five-star classics. Together, Greensboro and Atlanta drew 30,000 fans. Since Wrestlemania had three different locations, they were able to draw 10,000 more than Starrcade. Even if you just take Wrestlemania’s two biggest draws which were LA and Long Island; you’d have a crowd of 31,000. You’re almost there, NWA. You probably should’ve booked a show in Norfolk or something.
Your hosts in Atlanta are Tony Schiavone and Rick Stewart (who?) and as for Greensboro, your hosts are Bob Caudle and Johnny Weaver!
Wahoo McDaniel vs. Rick Rude (w/Paul Jones) – Indian Strap Match
This is the final blow-off to a feud that started in Florida prior to this event. Rude would go on to win the NWA tag titles, but was then stripped of the belt due to his departure to McMahonLand. As for McDaniel, this would be one of his last big-time matches so it’s only proper they book him in the kind of gimmick match he’s famous for. Wahoo dominates early by choking Rude down on the mat with the strap. Rude tries to regroup out on the floor, but Wahoo pulls him back in by the strap. Rude now controls with a headlock and then beats Wahoo down into the corner. That goes on for quite a while until Rude pulls him out for a slam. Rude goes for the win and easily taps two corners, but Wahoo puts the brakes on by hooking the bottom rope with his feet. It only stops Rude momentarily as he begins to pull Wahoo over to the third corner, but Wahoo kicks him down to stop the count. Wahoo comes back with more choking by using the strap. He whips Rude into the ropes for a big chop to set up his first attempt at touching the corners. He gets to three corners, but Rude kicks him off one his way to the fourth corner. Rude goes to the top and hits a flying fist drop. He attempts to tie Wahoo up to start dragging him to the corners, but Wahoo kicks him in the face. Rude punishes Wahoo with a knee drop and heads to the top again for a flying fist drop. He starts to come off, but Wahoo pulls him down via the strap. Wahoo drops an elbow and begins to drag Rude to the corners. Wahoo reaches the first, the second, the third, and chops Paul Jones off the apron on his way to the fourth. Rude stands up and forearms Wahoo into the fourth corner for the win. (8:11) This leads to a 2-on-1 attack until Hector Guerrero and Baron Von Raschke came down for the save. This was pretty much your run-of-the-mill strap match. I’ve always liked strap matches due to the suspense they can bring and this one lacked suspense as Rude dragged Wahoo only once during the match. *½
NWA World Tag Team Champions The Rock n Roll Express vs. Minnesota Wrecking Crew – Cage Match
Haha, get ready to BOOGIE! Johnny Weaver mentions that the RnR Express ASKED for this match to be in a cage. Why would you NOT want to be able to escape from Ole and Arn Anderson? Gibson starts off using a duck-and-run strategy on the Andersons which seems to just piss them off more than anything. Morton comes in which draws the ref’s attention away from the match for the Anderson to double-team Gibson. Haha, I love it. Arn attempts to take Gibson’s face to the steel mesh, but Gibson blocks and slams the back of Arn’s head into it instead. Arn gets caught between the Express and wisely stumbles back to his corner and tags in Ole. Morton tags in and since Ole can’t slow the Express down, he tags out to Arn. He tries to slow it down so he can catch Morton off-guard by taking him to the steel, but Morton blocks it. That is too awesome. Arn tries for a hammerlock, but Morton reverses and puts Arn down with a right hand. Now the Express try working the arm. Gibson tags in but then misses a charge in the corner and runs his knee right into the top buckle. Haha, Arn seizes the opportunity and makes it look INCREDIBLY easy. Gibson is caught up on the top buckle and gets his injured knee slammed into the cage three times. Ole tags in and stomps away on it. As my dad would say, “If Ole could, he would pull that leg off and eat it!” The crowd is shrieking in horror of what is happening to Gibson right now. Arn comes in for more of the same. Gibson attempts a comeback, but Arn cuts him off and makes the quick tag to Ole. Gibson tries to punch back, but Ole tackles him down and grinds on the knee some more. Gibson does however punch out of a spinning toe-hold, but once again Ole is able to keep him in their corner and make the tag to Arn. He continues to abuse the leg of Gibson like whether he walked again did NOT matter to him at ALL. Gibson finally connects with an enziguri kick and makes the MOLTEN HOT tag to Morton! Ole doesn’t give a CRAP and just rams Morton head-first into the cage. Ole does that once more before grinding his boot into Morton’s face down in the corner. We see the first sign of a video edit as we JIP to Ole wrenching on Morton before tagging in Arn. Morton ducks a clothesline but then runs right into a SPINEBUSTER! Hahaha! Arn truly believes he has it won, but Morton kicks out at two! Ole tags in and comes off the top with a well-placed knee to the elbow joint. Just to be incredibly cruel, he locks on a PAINFUL looking armbar. Morton kicks him off but that just leads to a double-KO. Arn tags in and cuts off Morton. He fights up out of a neck wrench and fires back while Arn wrenches his arm. Arn staggers and falls on his face, but still makes the tag to Ole. Morton slowly crawls over towards Gibson, but he gets side-swiped by Ole into the cage! Hahahaha. Morton fires back on Ole and finally after about seven blows, Ole starts to stagger. He actually appears to be playing ‘possum and comes back with a knee to the gut. Morton surprised Ole with a small package, but Arn runs in to break it up after a two-count. Gibson comes in and destroys Arn long enough to keep him down so he can dropkick Morton onto Ole during a slam for the surprise three-count to retain the belts. (11:45) It appears that possibly up to eight minutes of Morton murdering went down that we didn’t see. Even for the twelve minutes I saw, this is some of the best tag wrestling ever from the masters. You can catch this same portion on WWE’s Bloodbath DVD, which I strongly recommend for any wrestling fan. ****½
Big Bubba Rogers (w/Jim Cornette) vs. Ron Garvin – Louisville Street Fight
The rules for the match is that you can win anywhere by pinfall or a ten-count. Not sure of the backstory for his match unless the Garvin & Murdoch/Midnight Express match from the US tag title tournament had anything to do with this considering it ended in a double DQ. It’s okay though because I don’t really care. Punch-kick match to start with Garvin having a hard time taking Bubba off his feet. Bubba wants a test of strength, but Garvin answers the challenge with a punch to the face. A few more blows finally take Bubba off his feet to send him rolling out to the floor with Cornette. Bubba comes back in and eventually dumps Garvin out to ringside. Back in, Garvin gets dumped again. Does Rick Stewart’s commentating remind you of Scott Hudson? He does to me. On his way back in the ring, Garvin grabs a nice cold cup of soda and splashes it in Bubba’s face. Garvin rips Bubba’s shirt and knocks him out to ringside. Back in, Bubba fights back after some Garvin offense and nails Garvin with a roll of coins! Ref Tommy Young starts the ten-count, but Garvin is up at eight. Now Garvin is cut open and fighting back with rights. Bubba goes up top but gets slammed off to the mat. Garvin covers, but gets pressed off by Bubba onto the ref. Garvin delivers a terrible looking piledriver, but then gets whacked in the head by Cornette’s racket. Tommy Young gets back up and starts a ten count on both men and reaches ten. Since there must be a winner, the first man who gets to their feet wins. Cornette gets into the ring, so Young shoves him back out to the floor. While Bubba uses the ref to try and get to his feet, Cornette sneaks in and nails Garvin with the racket again to give Bubba the win. (7:55) In my book, Bubba wouldn’t be any count for another five years. CRAP
Jimmy Valiant (w/the grotesquely large-breasted “Big Mama”) vs. Paul Jones (w/Manny Fernandez) – Hair vs. Hair Match
I’m going to be honest with you. I have an unnatural hate for the “Boogie Woogie Man”. He’s one of those wrestlers who make you actually look over your shoulder to make sure no one has seen you watching this guy. In case you care, Manny Fernandez refuses to be stuck in a cage like he had agreed to prior to the match, so Wahoo and some other no-names come down and make sure that he goes through with the stipulation. Valiant controls early with his usual horrible offensive moves, but then Jones sneaks in a foreign object out from his tights and KOs Valiant for two. Valiant tries to come back, but Jones punches him down for another two. Jones has the foreign object in his hand again and connects for another two. Jones tries for the INDIAN DEATHLOCK, but Valiant fights back with punches. SLEEPER HOLD by Valiant looks to end things, but Jones pulls out the foreign object again. Valiant shoves him off into the corner, causing him to drop the object. Valiant grabs it and KO’s Jones for the win. (4:20) You’ve got that right. After Valiant shaves Jones completely bald, Rude and Fernandez to come in to double-team Valiant and finish him off with an IMPLANT DDT on a chair! That was the best part of the match right there. CRAP
NWA World Television Champion Dusty Rhodes vs. Tully Blanchard (w/JJ Dillon) – First Blood Match
Seriously, how many times did Dusty and Tully wrestle between 1985 and 1987? Dusty has Tully written in black marker on both sides of his head where there definitely should be hair. Haha, Dillon has Tully wearing wrestling headgear to make it harder for Dusty to break the skin. As for Dusty, his forehead is so scarred over that all you should have to do is concentrate on making his head bleed and that should do the trick. Of course, referee Earl Hebner doesn’t allow such and warns Tully to take off the headgear so that the match can begin. Since that didn’t work, Dillon goes to plan B and begins to rub Vasoline on Tully’s face to prevent bleeding, but Hebner won’t allow that either and rubs it off Tully’s face with a towel. Dillon gets all up in Dusty’s face and takes an elbow to bust him open. That’s right, it only took one elbow busted JJ Dillon open. So all Tully needs to do is avoid that elbow. Tully rolls out to assist Dillon as the bell sounds. Tully gets in and misses a charge in the corner to start. Dusty grabs hold of Tully, but he won’t stay still long enough for Dusty to nail him. Dusty struts around a bit until finally he receives a beating in the corner. He turns that around, but still Tully avoids a punch to the face. Tully gets a single-leg takedown but misses a fist drop and avoids another punch from Dusty by bailing out to the floor. Back in, Dusty connects with a headbutt that almost busts his own head open. Dusty picks Tully up and delivers the elbow, but still no blood. Dusty knocks him down again with a chop and starts to work on the leg that Tully injured earlier in the match. Dusty tries to bust him open again, but Tully bails once more. Back in, Tully tries to scratch Dusty’s forehead until he bleeds which is probably the smartest thing I’ve seen so far in this match. Dusty fights back and stomps Tully on the head. Dillon gets involved to cause a ref bump so that Tully can use Dillon’s shoe on Dusty, but he avoids it and follows up with a suplex. Now Dusty takes the shoe and throws it out of the ring and puts Tully down with an elbow. He mounts Tully and starts pounding on him until he bleeds, but there’s no ref. Haha while Dusty is busy gloating and strutting for the crowd, Tully rolls over to Dillon so he can clean him up and rub Vasoline on his head to stop the bleeding long enough for Tully to come back and bust Dusty open with another roll of coins. Hebner comes to and sees blood on Dusty’s forehead and gives the match and the NWA World TV title to Tully Blanchard. (8:40) I liked how Tully was able to avoid the elbow at the beginning. After a while though, the constant stalling began to seem like laziness. *
The Road Warriors (w/Paul Ellering) vs. The Midnight Express (w/Jim Cornette) – Scaffold Match
This match was extremely dangerous for its time as you have four men trying to keep their balance and fight on possibly a five-foot wide scaffold that is ascended about twenty-feet above from the ring. The object of the match is to make your opponent fall from the scaffold and not fall yourself. Animal pairs off with Eaton and Condrey with Hawk for the whole match. LOD controls to start, but then the Express take over by tossing powder into their eyes and they still can’t get the LOD to fall. Eaton has a near-fall experience, but then grabs hold of a ladder that leads up to the scaffold. Eventually, Hawk and Condrey fall down onto the ladder beneath the scaffold to make the fall a little safer. Now Animal and Eaton make it onto the ladder on the opposite side. Eaton and Hawk shimmy towards the middle of the scaffold as though they were playing on monkey bars. They begin to chicken fight underneath the scaffold as Condrey falls followed by Eaton to give LOD the win. (7:28) For some reason, Cornette thinks he’ll be safe by climbing up the ladder to the scaffold, but then he falls to the mat below and messes up his knee for probably the rest of his life. By the way, you’re crazy if you think I can possibly rate this match. It was more of a spectacle than a wrestling match.
NWA World Champion Ric Flair vs. NWA U.S. Champion Nikita Koloff
This is the match that was not initially planned to be the main event as Magnum TA was scheduled to wrestle and beat Ric Flair for the World Title, but he wrecked his Porsche and will never wrestle again. So since the NWA and WCW as well billed the US Champion as the #1 contender to the top prize, Nikita gets put in the driver’s seat. But not in a Porsche though, probably more like a Nissan. Plus he didn’t wreck or at least I don’t think he did. Let’s check out the match and see! Koloff overpowers Flair to start by shoving him down from two tie-ups. What’s CRAZY about this match is that Koloff who is pushed as evil Communist who stole the US belt from Magnum and HATES America is the face here because Flair is just that awesome of a heel. This is 1986, man. This is REAGAN’S country! Nobody hates on America and gets away with it, much less CHEERED over an all-American! Also as a result of this match, Koloff would continue this run as a face until his first wife’s health began to deteriorate until she finally passed on in 1989. Back to the match. Due to being overpowered, Flair takes a count out on the floor to slow down the pace and regroup. Back in, Flair hooks up with Nikita in a knucklelock. He then kicks Nikita in the gut to break free but that just pisses the Russian off, so Flair bails again and takes another breather. Back in again, Koloff continues to overpower Flair with an overhead wristlock that puts Flair down on his butt. Flair backs Koloff into the corner and tries a hiptoss, but Nikita stays strong and delivers a hiptoss to Flair. Koloff no-sells a shoulderblock and grabs a bearhug. Flair eventually reaches the corner to call for a break. Flair avoids a charge in the corner and delivers a beautiful delayed vertical suplex that Koloff no-sells. I spy some clippage as we JIP to Koloff limping around so I’m guessing Flair has been working the leg for a pretty good while. Yep, he definitely has been working the leg. Flair starts to go to work in the corner, but that begins to piss off Nikita more than ever before. Flair runs at Nikita and starts choking him, but Koloff shoves him back to the mat. Koloff hammers Flair with a shoulderblock but then gets dumped out to the floor. Flair goes out with him and slams his head into the support beams for the scaffold to bust him open. Back in, Flair hits the rolling knee drop and covers for 1, 2, NO! Back suplex from Flair gets 1, 2, NO! Now Flair begins to pound on Nikita’s cut forehead, which just angers Koloff. He comes back with a slam and a hip toss out of the corner. A cross-corner whip leads to a Flair Flip out to the floor. Flair nails Koloff as he comes around to get at him, but then gets his head slammed into the scaffold’s support beam to bust Flair open. Koloff slams Flair’s head into the beam a few more times from inside the ring! Now Flair gets back in, as Koloff begins to work on Flair’s shoulder. Koloff wins a slugfest which prompts for a Flair Flop! Koloff hits a shoulderblock and the ref gets nailed inadvertently. Flair goes to the eyes and whips Koloff out of the corner, but then Nikita explodes out and nails Flair with the RUSSIAN SICKLE! Flair is KO’ed! Koloff covers but Tommy Young is still down. A second ref comes down as Nikita goes over to bring Tommy Young back in the ring, but Flair comes up from behind with a knee to the back. Flair covers as the second referee, Scrappy McGowan (?!) slides and counts for 1, 2, NO! Koloff kicks out. Nikita goes for another RUSSIAN SICKLE, but Flair ducks and Nikita nails Scrappy. Nikita starts choking on Flair in the corner as Tommy Young comes back in and tries to break it up, but he gets shoved down again. He goes back over to get Nikita off of Flair once more and gets nailed again. Tommy Young has had enough and calls for the bell to give Flair the DQ win. (13:19) Some random heels come down and try to get Nikita off of Flair. Eventually some faces come down and it turns into a huge brawl as we close out the show. This was a lot better the third time I’ve seen it as I really started to WANT Koloff to win. ****
Final Thoughts: Sure, this show has two ****+ matches, but the undercard is almost unbearable. The two main events being the cage match in Greensboro and the Flair/Koloff match in Atlanta are the only redeemable qualities of the show. Like I said before, you can check out the cage match on the Bloodbath DVD and the Flair/Koloff match is the standard Flair match from the ‘80s with most anybody. To be truly honest with you as an old-school fan, I can’t go any higher than thumbs in the middle for Starrcade 1986.