The Name on the Marquee: NWA Battle of the Belts 3 (9.1.1986)
-It’s been a while since I’ve done a big card for any promotion, and I stumbled on this one tonight and figured “Why not?” This is the third in a series of syndicated specials from Championship Wrestling from Florida that brought together talent from the NWA and the AWA.
-Originally aired September 1, 1986.
-Coming to you from Daytona Beach, Florida.
-Your hosts are Gordon Solie & Stan Rhodes.
TYREE PRIDE vs THE CUBAN ASSASSIN
-Inexplicably joined in progress on this live broadcast. Pride hammers the Cuban and shoulderblocks him down. Cuban throws him over the top rope but Pride skins the cat with impressive speed and rolls up Assassin for three. Not enough of this one for me to cast judgment so I won’t. I will however cast judgment on the promotion for starting a live show in mid-match.
U.S. TAG TEAM TITLES: FABULOUS ONES (Champion) vs SHEEPHERDERS
-This is a feud that went on approximately forever and even spanned multiple territories. Insight from Stan Rhodes on commentary: The Sheepherders technically don’t break any rules, they just ignore them.
-Fabulous Ones clear the ring immediately. Luke heads back in and takes a series of savate kicks from Stan Lane. Sheepherder #2 (Butch) gets a little offense in, but Fabulous Ones maintain quick tags to keep him from getting any real advantage. Luke gets caught in a stepover toehold. Funny bit as Butch complains about non-existent cheating, but he’s distracting the referee, so the Fabulous Ones figure they may as well cheat anyway and switch off without tagging. Luke tries to break the toehold by raking Kiern’s eyes, but his aim is off and Kiern just bites down on his finger in another funny spot.
-Luke and Lane trade chops but Lane misses a corner charge, giving us our first Gordon Solie “Uh-uhhhhhh” of the evening. Butch puts the boots to Lane. Luke clamps on a sleeperhold, but Stan breaks it with, I guess, a Sweet Stan Stunner. Butch tags in quickly and elbows Stan down. Lane’s selling is amazing, as he just puts his entire body into every bump he takes.
-False hot tag allows Butch to drive the New Zealand flag into Lane’s forehead. Lane tries to restore order while the Fabulous Ones do a switcheroo, and Steve Kiern cradles Butch right away for three. Too short, but really fun while it lasted. 1 for 1.
U.S. JR. HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE: TIM HORNER (Champion) vs THE NINJA (WITH Kendo Nagasaki)
-Ninja is Great Muta, pre-facepaint. Gordon notes that Tim Horner is wearing blue trunks, but is quick to correct himself and clarifies that they’re actually teal, not blue. I thought something seemed off about that, Gordon.
-Side headlock by Horner. Ninja tries for a hiptoss, but Horner turns a cartwheel to avoid it, which catches Ninja off-guard. Horner works the arm over. Horner counters every counter that Ninja tries to get out of it. Ninja finally gets free by dropkicking Horner while facing away from him, which impresses the shit out of Gordon.
-Horner bounces back quickly and returns to the arm. Ninja shows signs of life with headscissors. He turns it into a choke and the referee forces a break. Suplay by the Ninja gets two. Chinlock by Ninja slows things back down. Horner tries to mount a comeback, but Ninja cuts it off and drops an elbow for two.
-BACK to the chinlock. Horner elbows out of it. Suplex by Horner gets two. Horner bounces off the ropes and Kendo catches him with a quick shot from the floor, and Ninja finishes with a moonsault to win the gold. Even the ring announcer sounds bored out of his mind. 1 for 2. These guys are way too talented and this event is way too short for them to put on a match like this.
AWA WORLD TITLE: NICK BOCKWINKEL vs KENDO NAGASAKI (with Oliver Humperdink)
-Detail that I like: Bockwinkel wants a lock-up and Kendo just throws a kick at him, trying to win the match from the moment the bell sounds. They trade arm holds as Gordon clarifies that in addition to being a wrestler, Nagasaki is “CEO of Hiroshima Limited.” This gimmick must have exhausted precious seconds of creative brainstorming before the booker dozed off from a heavy lunch.
-Bockwinkel works the leg. They stay on the mat for a bit with Nagasaki going to work on the arm as Gordon clarifies that Kendo Nagasaki is permitted to bring a kendo stick to the ring because it is used for a legitimate sport. Skeet shooting is considered a sport too, which leaves me wondering why somebody isn’t taking advantage of Gordon’s stated loophole and bringing a rifle to ringside.
-Bockwinkel gets tossed to the floor as Gordon predicts a stellar night for Hiroshima Limited. Bockwinkel gets fired up and hits a flurry of offense on Nagasaki. Dropkick and right hands by Bockwinkel. He goes for a slam, but Humperdink sweeps the leg so that Nagasaki lands on top. Referee catches him in the act and calls for the DQ. WEAK. Good match but awful finish. 2 for 3. You need to watch this show just to hear this godawful ring announcer, by the way. He sounds like he just woke up before everything he says.
ROAD WARRIORS (with Paul Ellering) vs SHOCK TROOPS (with Oliver Humperdink)
-Shock Troops are Kareem Muhammad & Ed Gantner. Gantner would have a sad and quick ending, as he was almost literally addicted to steroids to the point that his kidneys were shutting down before he hit 30, and he’d commit suicide at the end of 1990.
-Big brawl to start while Gordon announces that CWF asked the wrestlers who have already competed tonight to remain in the building to concerns that this specific match will end in a pull-apart and the referees just do not have the manpower to deal with that. Animal and Muhammad collide and neither man moves. Hawk & Gantner tag in and connect on a double clothesline. Gantner clamps on a bearhug and it’s amazing to see both Road Warriors actually selling their asses off for this guy.
-Muhammad tags back in and slams Animal. Elbow misses and Animal slams the 400-pound Muhammad to a good pop. Action spills out to the floor. Hawk connects with a dropkick and slams Muhammad right on his fucking head, and Stan Rhodes seems amazed that he’s still alive after that. Another pier sixer breaks out and Bill Alfonzo gets shoved down repeatedly until finally declaring “The hell with this” and calling the bout off. Wrestlers storm the ring and a battle royal breaks out. It happens. 3 for 4. Fun hoss brawl that never slowed down.
BAHAMAS CHAMPIONSHIP: CHRIS CHAMPION (Champion) vs KENDALL WINDHAM
-Champion hiptosses Kendall down, but walks right into a cradle for two. Hiptoss and Champion is begging for mercy. Series of armdrags by Kendall. Champion throws him out to the concrete and meets him out there with a Macho Man axehandle.
-Back in the ring, Windham catches Champion with a flying tackle and a slam. He sets up for a bulldog, but Champion counters by whipping him right into the referee. Windham hits the bulldog anyway, but instead of counting the pin, he calls for the bell and gives Kendall the win by DQ. It’s good to see CWF is getting their money’s worth from their copy of The Big Book of Cop-Out Finishes tonight, but this is starting to get ridiculous. Speaking of ridiculous, Gordon says this referee didn’t want to take chances when this match started to get chaotic, in light of all the trouble they had with the Road Warriors in the previous match. Oh yeah, it would take a damn army to bring Kendall Windham under control. 3 for 5.
NWA WORLD TITLE, BEST OF 3 FALLS: RIC FLAIR (Champion) vs LEX LUGAR
-Lex is still going by the old spelling. Gordon clarifies that each fall has a 20-minute time limit, by the way. Nice little character bit, as Flair stops before the lock-up to say hi to Gordon, showing that he’s not really taking this one seriously.
-FALL ONE: Lock-up. Lugar outmuscles Flair and just launches him across the ring with a hard shove. Flair tries a top wristlock but gets overpowered again. Flair tries chops and forearms and Lugar shrugs them all off, so Flair just goes outside to stall, with a look on his face suggesting he’s already out of ideas.
-Back in, Lugar with a series of press slams that have Flair begging for mercy. Series of shoulderblocks by Lugar, but Flair finally catches him with a forearm and takes control with boots and right hands. He blinds Lugar with a drag across the top rope. Lugar gets aggressive with rapid fire hands and a hiptoss, but Flair dodges a corner charge and Lugar injures his knee. Figure four clamped on, and Lugar submits to give Flair the first fall. Gordon suspects that Lugar only submitted because this was a two-out-of-three match, otherwise he would have fought it more.
-FALL TWO: Flair tries some more leg work but Lugar fights free from it. Flair fights back, but Lugar catches him in a powerslam out of nowhere and gets three to tie it up right away.
-FALL THREE: Flair comes off the top rope and lands right in a bearhug. Flair fights free and both men are exhausted. Clothesline by Lugar gets two. Uppercut sends Flair over the top and onto the floor. Ring announcer calls “five minutes” about three minutes into this, which makes me pretty damn sure about the finish of this one.
-Flair throws Lugar to the floor and rams him into the table. I just now noticed one of the cameramen is in wrestling gear, which is an odd visual. Back in the ring, a knee by Flair misses, and Lugar goes to work on the knee. Roll-up by Lugar gets two. Flair applies a sleeper. Lugar rams Flair into the turnbuckle to break it. Lugar applies a sleeper of his own. Flair breaks free and sends Lugar to the floor. Lugar blocks a shot to the post and reverses it, allowing Flair to finally do the blade job that we were all waiting for.
-Irony now interferes in the match as Flair is the one getting rammed into the table. Flair gets Flair-slammed off the top rope and Flair really gave himself a GUSHER of a blade job here as Lugar appears to break character for just a moment to ask him if he’s okay. Flair goes after Lugar’s leg and manages to turn things around. Chops by Flair. Powerslam by Lugar outta nowhere…only gets two. With the ring announcer declaring “15 seconds remaining,” Lugar applies a bearhug, so he kinda deserves not to win here. And of course, Flair hangs on for the full 15 seconds and the third fall goes to a time limit draw, allowing Flair to retain. 4 for 6. Good star-making turn for Lugar here, and in a way, it actually serves as a nice chapter one for the years-long Luger/Flair saga, as you can imagine Flair being caught off-guard by how damn good this guy is and figuring that the safe move for now is to get Luger on his side.
-Barry Windham and Ron Bass are doing battle for the Florida title, but time is completely up and we sign off two minutes into the bout.