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Dark Pegasus Video Review: Starrcade ’83 – A Flare for the Gold

September 1, 2008 | Posted by J.D. Dunn
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Dark Pegasus Video Review: Starrcade ’83 – A Flare for the Gold  

Starrcade ’83: A Flare for the Gold
by J.D. Dunn

Some pre-Starrcade territorial reading for your perusal:

  • SCW – The Event (August, 1982)
  • NWA St. Louis Supercard (02.11.83)
  • WCCW Wrestling Star Wars (06.16.83)
  • The Best of Ric Flair in Mid-Atlantic

  • November 24, 1983
  • Live from Greensboro, N.C.,
  • Your hosts are Gordon Solie and Bob Caudle.

  • Opening Match: The Assassins (w/Paul Jones) vs. Rufus R. Jones & Bugsy McGraw.
    The masked Assassins are Jody Hamilton, former promoter of the now-defunct WWE affiliate Deep South Wrestling, and Raymond Fernandez, better known as the Mighty Hercules. The Assassins are an interesting story in that they were a big part of the Georgia Championship Wrestling vs. All-South Wrestling territorial feud. When promoter Ray Gunkel died, his widow Ann decided to split off from the NWA and form a renegade promotion called “All-South Wrestling.” She took Hamilton and then-Assassin #2 Tom Renesto with her. Renesto became the booker, but GCW decided to play dirty and show pictures of the Assassins without their masks on. To counteract that, Renesto booked himself to lose his mask. Renesto and Hamilton continued to tag for a while, but Renesto cut back his dates to focus on booking. Eventually, Hamilton moved on to other partners, including Hercules and Randy “Smash” Colley. Rufus was the Mid-Atlantic TV Champion at this point. He was sort of a poor man’s Junkyard Dog. Rufus plays face-in-peril for the bulk of the match. Not a lot of wrestling going on, but Rufus takes a good beating. Bugsy gets the hot tag, and the faces clean house. In all the chaos, though, one of the Assassins rolls up Bugsy for the win at 8:10. Not surprisingly, this was sluggish. *

  • In the locker room, Tony Schiavone (who looks like a teenager) hypes more locker room interviews later in the show. We see Ric Flair, Ricky Steamboat and Roddy Piper talking strategy.
  • Johnny Weaver & Scott McGhee vs. Kevin Sullivan & Mark Lewin (w/Gary Hart).
    This was right around the time Sullivan was doing his Satan-worshipper gimmick in Florida, so Lewin is “under his control.” That’s really downplayed here, which is too bad. They actually did a segment on Florida TV where Kevin Sullivan went to the beach and summoned Lewin out of the ocean as his disciple. Scott McGhee was trained by Ric Flair (his brother-in-law) among others. He had a solid career, but he was mostly the second banana to guys like Dusty Rhodes and Magnum T.A.. Weaver is kind of the elder statesman, just there to teach McGhee the ropes and help him get over. The heels use a lot of chicanery, including distracting the ref during a hot tag. McGhee has the Ricky Morton role down pat, really getting the fans behind him. Weaver eventually gets the hot tag and starts cleaning house. He misses a charge, though, and the heels go to work on Weaver’s arm. Sullivan holds the arm while Lewin splashes it, and that gets the anticlimactic pin at 6:48. Not much of a match really. It was just kind of a Cliff’s Notes version of the tag formula. *1/4

  • After the match, McGhee goes after Gary Hart who slips a spike to Lewin. Lewin stabs McGhee in the face several times until Angelo Mosca makes the save. The fans are pissed at the heels after that one.
  • Harley Race is confident because he’s been getting the skinny on Ric Flair’s injuries.
  • Carlos Colon vs. Abdullah the Butcher.
    Carlos is the father of Carlito Colon, who is still with the WWE as of this writing but probably won’t be by the time this posts. Colon actually won the NWA Title from Flair earlier in the year, but it was never recognized. According to kayfabe, this match was banned in Puerto Rico, but Carlos wanted a match so bad that he chased him to the States. Abdullah does his usual shtick of using a foreign object and playing red light/green light with the ref. Carlos steals the object from him and jabs Abby in the head with it. Abdullah accidentally (or not) drops an elbow on the ref. Carlos applies the figure-four on Abby, but future WWE commentator Hugo Savinovich runs in, clocks Carlos, and Abby gets the pin at 4:27. More a very slow street fight than a wrestling match. I’ve never been a big fan of Abby’s style of match. *

  • Tony Schiavone catches up with Angelo Mosca, who got stabbed while trying to save Scott McGhee. He is angry – really angry – with Lewin. He also confirms he’ll be able to referee the match tonight and predicts victory for Ric Flair tonight.
  • Florida Championship Wrestling’s Barbara Clary catches up with some fans. They also think Flair will win.
  • Wahoo McDaniel & Mark Youngblood vs. Bob Orton Jr. & Dick Slater.
    Mark is the younger brother of Jay Youngblood, neither of whom is actually American Indian, nor named Youngblood. Bob Orton is, of course, Randy’s dad, and a massive heat-getter in his day. Slater is practically a mirror image of Terry Funk and has a slew of great, unheralded matches under his belt. Definitely, if you’re a fan of old school wrestling, try to find as much Slater as you can. He deserves more recognition. Wahoo was one of the stiffer wrestlers you’d find, so this should be fun. The heels have a lot of heat because they were the guys who answered Harley Race’s bounty on Flair and tried to put the Nature Boy out of action. Wahoo was a friend of Flair’s and saved him from several beatdown attempts, thus mucking up Race’s master plan. The match gets off to a quick start, with back and forth action from Youngblood and Slater. The heels try to cheat and get a win via the over-the-top rule, but the ref isn’t buying it. Youngblood plays face-in-peril and does a great job. Hard to believe this guy would be one of the tubby Renegade Warriors in WCW. Wahoo gets the hot tag and cleans house on the heels. Youngblood tags back in and fires off dropkicks. In the chaotic brawl, though, Orton is able to finish Youngblood with the superplex at 13:10. The heels remind me a lot of Rated RKO, the cocky-but-cowardly heels who can usually back up their boasts, but only through cheating. This was a hot match with good formula and some great wrestling from Slater & Orton. ***1/4

  • In the back, Ric Flair wishes Jay Youngblood and Ricky Steamboat luck. Jay mumbles through a bad promo, trying to put Ric over. How bad? Ricky Steamboat has to step in and finish the promo off.
  • Barbara Clary tries to get a word with Dusty Rhodes. We have audio problems, so Gordon Solie has to explain he’s challenging the winner of the Flair/Race match.
  • NWA Television Title vs. Mask: The Great Kabuki (w/Gary Hart) vs. Charlie Brown.
    Brown is Jimmy Valiant doing the masked-man-who-everyone-recognizes gimmick. Kabuki was a precursor and storyline father to Muta, complete with Green Mist. His last major appearance stateside was getting eliminated in the 1994 Royal Rumble. The kayfabe story goes that Kabuki was horribly scarred by a bed of hot coals, so he wore his hair long and painted his face. Cool. They just don’t write character backstories like that anymore. The match ranges from Competent, when Kabuki is in charge, to Bad, when Valiant is in command. The reason is because Valiant makes such good comebacks. Valiant utilizes the sleeper early, but Kabuki is tough. Kabuki keeps going back to the Claw. Really, it’s just a battle between Iron Claw and Sleeper. We’re clipped a bit to Kabuki missing a corner charge. Brown drops an elbow and picks up the TV Title at 10:34. About three minutes were clipped, which means that it was within the 15-minute TV Title time limit, although Gordon and Bob aren’t sure. I’m not a big Valiant fan, but he got big reactions and always got the crowd behind him when he was fighting from underneath. That’s practically all this was. *

  • Bob Orton Jr. and Dick Slater express confidence in Harley Race. Race, who has the evilest voice in all of wrestling, promises to work Flair’s neck, injured by a spiked piledriver from Orton and Slater.
  • Dusty Rhodes has to retape his promo challenging the winner of the main event. I think he predicts Race will win, but it’s hard to tell with Dusty.
  • Dog-Collar Match: Greg Valentine vs. Roddy Piper.
    Valentine is the U.S. Champ, but it’s not on the line here. Gordon Solie goes on record, supporting Roddy Piper. Damned liberal media. Piper turned babyface by saving Solie from a beatdown by Don Muraco, one of Piper’s own thugs. Piper found wrestling Jesus, and turned face, working his way through every heel in the territory. Tug-of-war to start. Finally, they just start punching each other. Piper knocks him down and crotches him with the chain. Ouch! Valentine hits him in the ear with the chain and then wraps the chain around Piper’s eyes. Piper knees him and stretches the chain across Valentine’s mouth and nose. Valentine has started to bleed from his forehead. Valentine chokes him down with his bare hands. Piper gets a little out of control while making the comeback, so the ref pulls him back. Valentine, of course, takes a cheapshot and goes after Piper’s ear. Solie describes the psychology by noting that Piper’s balance is gone because of damage to the eardrum. That’s why people loved Gordon. Valentine drops an elbow for two. Another. He tries for a third, but Piper yanks him down by the chain and punches him in the head as hard as he can. Piper starts whipping him with the chain. Sick. Valentine goes after the ear and uses the chain to choke Piper out on the ropes. They fight over a suplex – a battle which Piper eventually wins. Valentine slaps on a sleeper hold once they recover. Caudle wonders if the collar could be blocking the hold. How smart is that commentary! Piper fades but hauls off and hits Valentine with a handful of chain to counter. Piper finally just goes nuts and whips the hell out of Valentine and simply pins him at 16:08. Valentine jumps him during the celebration and tries to hang him with the chain. The ending was a little abrupt and anti-climactic, but the rest was just brutal and bloody fun. The ear psychology lifted this match above your average mindless brawl. Piper would suffer permanent hearing loss from this match. ****

  • More from Flair. Flair thanks Wahoo McDaniel for saving him and offers his services any time Wahoo needs him.
  • Don Kernodle wishes everyone in the tag title match good luck and predicts victory for Flair.
  • NWA World Tag Titles: The Brisco Brothers vs. Ricky Steamboat & Jay Youngblood.
    This is the result of several quality matches between the two teams (who were once friends) that saw the Briscos inching closer and closer to full heel status. In one match, Jack splashed Ricky Steamboat while he was in the figure-four, which was a Brisco staple but a big no-no then. A few weeks later, they had a rematch and, again, a Brisco “accidentally” fell on Ricky’s legs while he was in the figure-four leglock. Finally, Jim Crockett said to hell with it and signed this match for the biggest show of the year. Angelo Mosca is the special referee and does a little better job than Gene Kiniski would later in the evening. This match is a little calmer and more solid than their previous meetings. The faces work on Gerald’s arm but Steamboat gets dropped on the top rope to play face-in-peril. Ricky and Gerry duel at breakneck speed, and Gerald gets a backdrop. He keylocks the arm which is a good strategy against Steamer. Ricky powers up and backdrops Gerald over while still in the keylock. HOT TAG TO YOUNGBLOOD! The numbers overwhelm the young guy, though, and now he’s screwed. Gerald gets into an argument with Mosca and gets knocked on his ass. Steamboat tags back in and he’s fired up. Youngblood gets a Steamboat-assisted dropkick, and Steamboat presses Youngblood onto Gerald for the win at 12:48. Seemed longer. Good, classic tag formula. Steamboat and Youngblood were the ultimate babyface team, and the treacherous Briscos played their parts to perfection. ***3/4

  • After the match, the Briscoes put Ricky in the figure-four and splash him. Jack goes up to break Ricky’s leg, but Mosca stands between them and catches Jack when he comes off the top to save Ricky’s career. Great booking!
  • Tony catches up with new TV Champ Charlie Brown. He dedicates his win to the people. Roddy Piper promises to take Valentine’s U.S. Title. Jay Youngblood and Ricky Steamboat celebrate their new tag titles. No! Don’t let Jay talk!
  • NWA Heavyweight Title: Harley Race vs. Ric Flair.
    Gene Kiniski is the (infamous) referee. Flair had won the title back in 1981 and had an “interesting” reign in which he lost the title to Jack Veneno, Carlos Colon, and Dusty Rhodes but none of them counted. The one loss that did count was when he lost it to Harley a few months earlier after Race had put a bounty on Ric’s head. Flair survived and Race ducked him up until now. Flair goes right after him early on and argues with Kiniski. Solie warms my heart by going into each man’s wrestling history and comparing their styles. Kiniski physically pulls Race off of Flair. Race hit’s a high knee but misses a falling headbutt. Flair covers but Kiniski takes forever to get down and doesn’t even get a count. Ric continues to confound Race with a headlock. Solie and Caudle talk about Race holding out for the hour time limit because time is his ally. This was a time when that actually could happen. Meanwhile, Race has turned the tide and is methodically working over Flair’s head and neck with a series of knees. Race hits an archaic powerslam for two. The champ jaws with Kiniski about the count and then decides to use the cage as a partner by slamming Flair’s head into it. The camera gets spattered with Flair’s blood making this truly awesome. Kiniski pulls Race back and Flair takes the opportunity to chop him. It doesn’t last long as he does the same to Flair while Race headbutts him. Harley gets sent into the turnbuckle to finally turn the tide. Now it is Race going headfirst into the cage. “Whooo!” Flair is strutting!! He hits a piledriver for two and now he and Kiniski get into a shoving match. Finally, Race cheapshots Flair and shoves Kiniski out of the way. Flair makes the comeback but his face is covered in blood. Flair locks in the figure-four (back in the day when this was a big deal.) Solie thinks it’s over and Caudle is in the parking lot warming up his Ford Tempo but someone forgot to tell Race. He makes it to the ropes and turns it over which, according to Solie, has only happened once before. Race comes off the second rope with a headbutt. Solie says that Kiniski’s count is deliberate and steady. So is a tortoise. The center of the ring is stained with blood. Flair tries to come back but there is nothing behind his blows. Kiniski pulls Race away by his hair allowing Ric to make another comeback. Race “accidentally” headbutts Kiniski off of a headlock. Flair takes the opportunity to go up top and comes off with Race (in theory) stumbling over Kiniski and falling on his back for the pinfall loss at 26:00. All of the babyfaces come in to celebrate with Flair. Flair gives a great emotional speech thanking the crowd. Certainly not for people with today’s tastes, but a great back-and-forth, bloody brawl that was appropriately epic for this huge event. ****1/4
  • Flair thanks everyone for standing behind him when he was down and out. Great interview that makes the match feel like a Superbowl. Steamboat congratulates Flair, and Flair tells Ricky if he ever needs anything, Flair has his back. Dusty Rhodes congratulates and challenges Flair.
  • Caudle and Solie sum things up.
  • Race tells Flair to enjoy it while it lasts because he’ll hound Flair to the ends of the earth.
  • Flair, Steamboat and Youngblood celebrate some more.
  • The 411: If you forget the lackluster undercard and focus on the last half, this is a fine show. Ric Flair became a household name as JCP went national years before Vince McMahon and people got to see what all the fuss was about. Race pretty much bowed out after this, heading to the WWF for a forgettable "King" gimmick before regaining a measure of respect as a manager in the early 1990s. They weren't the only major players, though, because Steamboat, Piper, & Valentine also had stellar performances that would, in theory, elevate them to stardom. Unfortunately for Crockett, it would be in the WWF. But that's another story. Thumbs up here.
     
    Final Score:  8.0   [ Very Good ]  legend

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