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Dark Pegasus Video Review: Starrcade ’84 — The Million Dollar Challenge

September 3, 2008 | Posted by J.D. Dunn
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Dark Pegasus Video Review: Starrcade ’84 — The Million Dollar Challenge  

Starrcade ’84: The Million Dollar Challenge
by J.D. Dunn

Are we still going with that ‘Piper got permanent hearing loss’ story? Its right up there with ‘Ax had a heart attack and got replaced with Crush’ and ‘Butch Reed was going to be IC champ but showed up late’ stories.

Posted By: Guest#1295 (Guest) on September 02, 2008 at 12:01 PM

It’s on both his wikipedia page and IMDB profile. Also, Roddy himself brought it up on an episode of ECW. If it’s bogus, then they certainly are committed to the lie. Only Hot Rod knows for sure, so if anyone has read his auto-biography and has anything relevant to add, feel free.

  • November 22, 1984
  • Live from Greensboro, N.C..
  • Your hosts are Gordon Solie and Bob Caudle.

  • Opening Match, NWA World Junior Heavyweight Title: Mike Davis vs. Denny Brown.
    Mike Davis is probably best known as one-half of the Rock ‘n’ Roll RPMs a poor man’s version of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express and Midnight Express (depending on which territory they were in at the time). *I* will always remember him most for the “Real Dusty Rhodes” angle in Florida. See, Kevin Sullivan and Dusty Rhodes were involved in a blood feud. One day, Sullivan trotted out Mike Davis with bleached, curly hair. Davis talked with a lisp and claimed to be the *real* Dusty Rhodes while the other guy that people had been watching for a decade was really an imposter named Virgil Runnels. And that wasn’t even his strangest angle! The Junior title was already meaningless on this side of the Pacific. More on that in a moment. This is a typical NWA junior match with no hatred, no brawling, no… personality. They wrestle on the mat. They show sportsmanship. Davis eventually hits a belly-to-back suplay, but Brown lifts his shoulder and gets the pin. Gordon and Bob are confused, as is the ring announcer, but Brown picked up the meaningless title win. Why meaningless, well, the politically clusterfuckery of the National Wrestling Alliance meant that no one knew exactly who the real champion was. The title was vacated by the original Tiger Mask when he retired. The Cobra won a tournament to crown a new champion in Japan, but the U.S. promoters recognized Les Thornton as their champion. Now that I think about it, the title win probably wasn’t meaningless because once the Cobra vacated his version of the title in 1985, Shoehi Baba decided to recognize the only existing junior champion – Denny Brown. *

  • Tony Schiavone joins us from the locker room to tell us he’s joining us from the locker room.
  • Mr. Ito vs. Brian Adidis.
    Brian “Adidis” is Brian Adias, star of World Class for a while. I guess the production staff was confused by the “Adidas” sports apparel company. Perhaps he’s subbing for Joel Reebok. Mr. Ito is… Mr. Ito. Ito tries to hiptoss out of an armbar, but Adias just lets go. They muck around on the mat until Adias finishes with an airplane spin around three minutes in. Movin’ on! 1/2*

  • NWA Florida Heavyweight Title: Jesse Barr vs. Mike Graham.
    Graham is the son of legendary Florida promoter Eddie Graham. The irony is that he was one of the best wrestlers among promoters’ sons, but he never got the Jesus push. Barr is the older brother of Art Barr, the man who Eddy Guerrero dedicated his career to. He was Dory Funk Jr.’s lackey at this point, a role he would resume in the WWF as “Jimmy Jack Funk.” Barr had just won the title a month or so earlier from Scott McGhee. Graham totally outshines Barr on the mat, which makes Barr’s Florida push all the more puzzling. Barr works the armbar, but Graham goes for the figure-four. Barr is in the ropes, though. For as much wrestling as they’re doing, there’s really not a lot going on. Graham hits a shinbreaker and applies another figure-four, and Barr makes the ropes again. Barr suckers Graham in and pins him with his feet on the ropes. Long for what they had to offer. I don’t have a timer for this review, but it felt like at least ten minutes. There was just no “there” there, ya know. Barr would go on to lose the title to Brian “fuck him in ass, make him humble” Blair. **

  • Elimination Match: The Assassin & Buzz Tyler vs. The Zambuie Express (w/Paul Jones).
    The Zambuie Express is Kareem Muhammad (Ray Candy) and Elijah Akeem (Leroy Brown). They were Muslim militants before Muslim militants were uncool. Why they would hang out with Paul Jones is beyond me. He’s the Mike Adamle of managers. The Assassin is Jody Hamilton. Tyler made a name for himself in the Central States Territory, tagging up with JJ Dillon. He even got several title shots against Ric Flair. He had just come off a brutal series of matches with Wahoo McDaniel and turned babyface to help out the Assassin against Paul Jones’ Army. Nothing much happens in this match. My, there’s a lot of filler on the card. If you’ve never seen the Zambuie Express, just imagine Mark Henry and Big Daddy V tagging. Oh, wait. You don’t have to. Tyler plays face-in-peril, which is a good idea because the Assassin was nearly 45 years old at this point. Tyler and Kareem fall to the floor and brawl to a DCOR, thus turning it into a singles match. Assassin gets knocked down, but Tyler helps him onto Muhammad for the pin. I’m not sure what they were thinking. As a matter of fact, neither do Gordon and Bob. Pretty bad. 3/4*

  • Tony Schiavone tries to interview Dusty Rhodes, who goes off on a tangent. Dusty tended to do that.
  • Brass Knuckles Title: Black Bart (w/JJ Dillon) vs. Manny Fernandez.
    I really have to question the validity of Black Bart’s “Brass Knuckles Championship.” Manny was one-half of the tag team champions at this point, along with Dusty Rhodes. Bart was a perennial mid-carder in several territories and the WWF before retiring and becoming a trainer. You might have heard of one of his trainees on the independent circuit — the Necro Butcher. No play-by-play possible as it’s just a lot of punching, and I’m not Jim Lampley. Manny blades early… and obviously. They bail and brawl on the floor where Bart ducks under the ring for refuge. When he comes back out, he’s also bloodied. Bart goes for his rope, but Manny rolls him up from behind to pick up the win and the “prestigious” brass knuckles title. Not bad for what it was. **

  • Ricky Steamboat tries to get an interview in, but the lights go out. Even the techs knew Ricky shouldn’t be on the mic.
  • Loser-Leaves-Town Tuxedo Street Fight: Paul Jones (w/Kareem Muhammad) vs. Jimmy Valiant (w/The Assassin).
    Yeah, I’m not recapping this. Instead, I’ll tell you about some cool angles that got Valiant so over. Okay, so One Man Gang was a big fat guy in the Mid-Atlantic territory (you know him as Akeem). So anyway, OMG and evil manager Oliver Humperdink challenged anyone to try and slam the Gang. Some jobber by the name of Ed Leslie considered it, but Valiant came in and shoved him out of the way demanding a chance. He tried once, but he couldn’t get the big guy up. So, they started playing his theme music and suddenly he found the power to life Gang off his feet. Humperdink shoved Gang over on him, though, because that’s what heel managers do. Ed Leslie would go on to fame as Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake. They also did an angle in Memphis where the winner of a Battle Royal won a brand new television set. Koko B. Ware won, but Valiant turned heel on him and smashed the TV. The promoter felt so bad for Koko that he presented Koko with a new one, but Valiant smashed that one too. The best, though, is when they brought out Tommy Rich’s mom to ask her about her son’s heelish actions. Valiant and evil manager Tojo Yamamoto berated her until Rich came out righteously pissed and threatened to kill them. Voila. Instant face turn. Anyway, this sucks. Paul Jones pins Valiant after chicanery. This would lead to the masked Charlie Brown “from outta town” showing up. Movin’ on! 1/4*

  • Ric Flair, who was not yet a complete heel, talks about having honor. He does say he’s the #1 stud, though.
  • Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Title: Ron Bass (w/JJ Dillon) vs. Dick Slater.
    Bass had an inexplicably great run in Florida. “Inexplicable” in that, if you’ve ever seen his lackluster WWF career, there is no logical way to explain it. His most notable career achievement is cheating Barry Windham out of Dusty Rhodes’ saddle and riding him around the ring like a horse. Slater is wrestling like babyface Terry Funk tonight, so he does a lot of goofy selling once Bass blindsides him for chasing Dillon. They work in the see-saw spot where Slater gets rocked back and forth in the ropes. Bass hits a bulldog. Slater fights back and shoves the ref down in all the hubbub. Slater knocks Dillon out of the ring and goes for the pin, but the ref has already disqualified him for shoving him down. Lame. Slater could be pretty good when he wanted, but I think he was a much better heel. *1/2

  • We take a break to pay tribute to America.
  • Ole Anderson & Keith Larson (w/Don Kernodle) vs. Ivan & Nikita Koloff.
    Kernodle and Ivan were tag team champions earlier in the year, but the arrival of Ivan’s “nephew” Nikita made Kernodle obsolete. Like good socialists, they decided to eliminate that which was of no use to the collective. Larson is Kernodle’s brother who has come in to replace him. Nikita was way green at this point, as is evidenced by his over-reliance on the bearhug. Ole uses the same strategy as he always does – work the arm, work the arm, work the arm. It turns into a donnybrook, and Nikita attacks Kernodle. The ref gets distracted as Ole goes out to make the save, and that allows Ivan to knock Larson will with the chain and pick up the pin. Surprisingly hot match, and a good one too. Ole knows what he’s doing in tag situations. **3/4

  • After the match, the Russians try to destroy Larson, but Kernodle makes the save with his crutch.
  • NWA World Television Title: Tully Blanchard (w/JJ Dillon) vs. Ricky Steamboat
    Blanchard is like Flair-lite here so this’ll be good. Immediately upon winning the title, Tully Blanchard gained a reputation as a staller, holding out for time-limit draws and such, so a rule has been instituted that Tully will forfeit the title if the ref rules he’s stalling. Also, Blanchard tricked Ricky to get in the ring with him and then beat his ribs in, so Ricky’s coming in injured. Big brawl to start, and Blanchard starts to crawl out of the ring, but he can’t or he risks being called for stalling. Good psychology. Gordon Solie says Blanchard is a very “cereblial” competitor. Huh? Blanchard naturally goes after the ribs. Solie says Steamboat was probably a little foolhardy to sign this match. Blanchard struts. Steamboat comes back with chops and grabs a sleeper. Blanchard tries to go over the top, but Steamboat won’t let go. Blanchard goes to the ribs to counter and delivers a backdrop suplex. Steamboat counters a hammerlock, but they’re in the ropes. Now, Blanchard starts to circle and taunt Steamboat, but he refuses to lock up so the fans know he’s stalling. This is some great psychology. Finally, he just spits right in Steamboat’s face. Ricky wipes the spit off and holds his open palm out at Blanchard. Now, Ricky is pissed. He gets a powerslam for two and starts chopping Blanchard right between the eyes. Blanchard misses a swing and Ricky gets a nice, thick spray of saliva right in his face. He follows that up with a series of stiff chops (even for Ricky). Steamboat hits Blanchard with his own slingshot suplex. It only gets two. Blanchard grabs something from his tights and blasts Ricky with it as Ricky tries to deliver a backdrop suplex. Blanchard flies at Steamboat with a crossbody block for two and sets Steamboat up on top. Steamboat pushes him off and splashes Blanchard off the top. Steamboat gets a sunset flip, but Blanchard pulls the foreign object out of his tights, blasts Steamboat with it, and sits down for the pin at 13:27. There were a few gaps in the rib psychology, and there could have been a few more near falls at the end, but this is still a very good match. These guys seemed almost as molded to work with each other as Flair and Steamboat. ****

  • U.S. Title: Wahoo McDaniel vs. Superstar Billy Graham (w/Paul Jones).
    Billy was steeped in his kung-fu gimmick. Look at me. I’m like what would happen if Methuselah knew Kung-Fu! This was quite the crappy match and quite the crappy finish. I want to say that this was rebooked at the last minute, and it certainly looks that way. Graham jobs to a chop with one of the worst sells you’ll ever see. 1/4*

  • Technical problems abound, leaving Gordon perplexed.
  • NWA Heavyweight Title, The Million Dollar Challenge: Ric Flair vs. Dusty Rhodes.
    Smokin’ Joe Frazier is your special guest referee. “Dusty’s carrying…uh…carrying a little weight for this match,” says Gordon Solie. Solie was being kind. Dusty hits a series of elbows to Flair’s head. Flair comes back with a chop and starts targeting Rhodes’ forehead, foreshadowing the finish. Dusty avoids a kneedrop and locks in the figure-four. Rhodes tries to work the knee further, but Flair rolls him over and punches him in the face again. Flair shoulderblocks Rhodes in the corner, but Dusty no-sells it and fires away with elbows. Flair flies over the top rope off a whip. Dusty suplexes him back in for two. Flair reverses a whip and grabs a sleeper, but Rhodes runs him out of the ring. They brawl on the outside, with Rhodes getting slammed into the ringpost. Of course, the cuts him open, cueing the ominous music. Frazier checks the cut, but Flair moves in and punches away at the cut. Finally, Frazier stops the fight out of fear for Rhodes’ safety at 12:09. Pfft! What would he do if he saw Eddy Guerrero 20 years later? There was a lot of rolling around and punching each other, but almost nothing memorable happened in that 12 minutes. *3/4
  • Flair’s response to the ending: Hey. Dem’s da breaks, pal.
  • The 411: A failure in just about every way, not the least of which was production. Steamboat's month's-long chase ended in him getting screwed out of the title in the big blowoff only to have Dusty swoop in and quickly beat Tully as part of his consolation prize. Steamboat jumped to the WWF after this and barely looked back. Despite the main-event screwjob here, the NWA would continue to solidify its position throughout 1985 and put on several successful shows. Look for Steamboat/Blanchard on the Best of Starrcade, but for God's sakes, don't chase this one down unless you're an OCD-level completist.

    Thumbs way down.

     
    Final Score:  3.5   [ Bad ]  legend

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