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Dark Pegasus Video Review: Starrcade ’85: The Gathering

September 11, 2008 | Posted by J.D. Dunn
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Dark Pegasus Video Review: Starrcade ’85: The Gathering  

Starrcade ’85: The Gathering
by J.D. Dunn

  • November 28, 1985
  • Live from Greensboro, S.C. & Atlanta, Ga.
  • Your hosts are Tony Schiavone and Bob Caudle.

  • Greensboro Coliseum
  • Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Title: Sam Houston vs. Krusher Khruschev.
    Khruschev is Barry Darsow (Demolition Smash) doing an evil Russian gimmick (although it started as an American turncoat gimmick). Houston is the half-brother of Jake Roberts. The title was vacated several months earlier when Buzz Tyler walked out on the promotion, and it was really becoming useless anyway. Houston controls early with an armbar, riding Khruschev down at every turn. Finally, Khruschev just gets sick of that and plants Houston on his face with a backdrop. That looked bad. Khruschev gets in a few more power moves before Houston crotches him on the top rope. The bulldog follows! ONE, TWO, THRE-Khruschev has his foot on the ropes. Houston, like an idiot, thinks he’s won and starts bouncing around the ring. That allows Khruschev to sneak up behind him and KILL Houston with a Russian Sickle (hooking clothesline). That earns Khruschev the pin at 5:15 (shown). *

  • Texas Bullrope Match: Ron Bass vs. Black Bart (w/JJ Dillon).
    These two were a tag team known as “The Long Riders” in Florida. They jumped to JCP where Bart turned on Bass. If Bass wins here, he gets five minutes with JJ Dillon. Nothing really to recap. They hit each other a lot with the cowbell. Bass eventually nails Bart in the head with the cowbell off the second rope. That nets him the pin at 8:35. **

  • Texas Bullrope Match: Ron Bass vs. JJ Dillon.
    So now Bass gets five minutes alone with Dillon. JJ tries to cheat and jumps Bass before they can be tethered together. Bass fights him off and delivers a much-deserved ass-whuppin’. Bart decides to intervene on Dillon’s behalf and piledrives Bass. He pulls Dillon’s semi-conscious carcass over to the pin at 3:30. 1/2*

  • National Heavyweight Title: Terry Taylor vs. Buddy Landell.
    JJ Dillon was taken out during the Bullrope Match, so he’s not in Buddy’s corner. The National Title was the Georgia promotion’s version of the Mid-Atlantic Title. Buddy gets in Taylor’s face and gets bitchslapped. Meanwhile, Dillon has returned to ringside. Taylor powers out of a reverse chinlock and suplexes Buddy. Taylor slams Buddy’s face into the buckle, but Buddy hauls off and hits him, knocking Taylor into the ref. That’s not enough, though, so Buddy intentionally tosses Taylor into the ref. Dillon is on the apron arguing with the fans, so Taylor reverses a whip, sending Landell into him. Taylor sets up for the superplex, but Dillon deftly sticks a hand in, tripping him up on the way down and putting Budro on top for the win and the title at 10:30. **3/4

  • U.S. Title, “I Quit” Cage Match: Magnum T.A. vs. Tully Blanchard (w/Babydoll).
    In an earlier match for the U.S. Title, Magnum hit the belly-to-belly but knocked out the ref. Babydoll snuck in dressed as a security guard and slipped Tully a foreign object and you can guess the rest. Magnum is introduced as “vastly popular” – which he is. Babydoll is introduced as “a perfect ten” – which she is NOT. Tully backs him into a corner but the larger TA pastes him with a right to send the Horseman sprawling. They catfight on the mat for a moment and you get that Spock vs. Kirk duel to the death feel going. Both guys are bloody. Tully shoves the mic into Magnum’s face. Tully: “SAY IT! SAY IT! SAY IT!” Magnum: “NOOOOOOOOOO!!! AAARRGHGHHGH!!!” Magnum hammerlocks him and tosses him into the cage a couple times cutting Tully’s arm open. Tully: “NOOOO! NOOO! NOOO!” Tully claws Magnum’s eyes and gets the mic. Tully: “SAY IT! SAY IT!”. Magnum: “HELL NOOOO!! AARGHH!” Tully covers him for no good reason other than to show that pinfalls don’t count. Tully: “SAY IT! SAY IT!” Magnum groans, barely conscious. Magnum: “no”. Tully: “WHO IS THE MASTER?!” Posse: “SHO NUFF!” Okay, I made that last part up. Tully tries to drop an elbow but Magnum avoids it. Magnum: “TELL ‘EM, TULLY!” Blanchard: “UGGHHHHGHGH! ARGGHGHGH!” Magnum mounts him in the corner to pound away but Tully counters to an Atomic Drop. Tully: “SAY IT!” Magnum: “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!” Tully smacks him with the microphone which resounds throughout the arena. Tully tosses the ref and Babydoll throws in a wooden chair. Tully smashes it up real good and fashions a spike out of the shattered wood. Blanchard tries to put his eye out with it but Magnum kicks him away and shoves it into his eye. Tully: “YES! YES! YES!” One of the great, insane, excruciatingly violent matches of the 1980s. Many call it the Match of the Decade. I’m not sure I’d go that far, but it’s still quite a thrill ride. Magnum was supposed to be elevated to the World Title the following year, as Crockett hoped to have a charismatic babyface capable of competing with Hulk Hogan, but it was not to be as Magnum hit something wood very hard, very fast with his car and was never the same again. *****

  • NWA World Tag Team Titles, Cage Match: Ivan & Nikita Koloff (w/Khrusher Khruschev) vs. The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express (w/Don Kernodle).
    Common sense (and eyesight) says that Gibson and Morton are dead meat. Nikita looks extra pissed here for some reason. He doesn’t really need a reason. He’s Nikita. Morton uses his quickness to avoid being beheaded early. The female fans are eating him up with a spoon. The Rock ‘n’ Rolls use doubleteams and quick tags to stay alive early. Morton drops a couple of fists off the top rope on Ivan, but Nikita gets the tag and smashes them like a big angry bear. Gibson plays Ricky Morton, showing that they are versatile. Morton, like an idiot, comes in to distract the ref while the heels doubleteam Gibson. The fans are squealing every time Gibson is in danger. Finally, the ref gets bumped and misses a 10-second count on Gibson. Morton gets the hot tag behind Ivan’s back and O’Connor Rolls him right as Ivan backdrops Gibson. Awesome spot. That gets the pin at 12:25, and the Rock ‘n’ Rolls win the titles in a memorable cage match. This was the quintessential Rock ‘n’ Rolls match where one of them took a beating, but they stayed with their plan and used quickness and resourcefulness to save the day. Good stuff. ***3/4

  • After the match, the Russians toss Morton over the cage to the floor and beat the living hell out of Gibson. Great booking there. The Russians still look like bad-asses, but the R&R have the titles.

  • The Omni in Atlanta, Ga.
  • Mexican Death Match: Manny Fernandez vs. Abdullah the Butcher (w/Paul Jones).
    This is one of the thousand or so variations on “Mexican Death Match.” More accurately, it’s a “sombrero on a pole” match. Manny had numerous problems with Jones, and Abby is Jones’ hired gun. This actually was not a bad match. Fernandez can wrestle stiffly when he wants to, and it came in handy here. Abby actually sold well, but his attempts at climbing the pole were comically. The finish sees Abby miss a corner charge, and Fernandez scale the pole to retrieve the sombrero at 9:08. **1/4

  • $10,000 Arm-Wrestling Challenge: “Superstar” Billy Graham vs. The Barbarian (w/Paul Jones).
    If you’ve ever seen an arm-wrestling contest in wrestling before, then you know that Jones attacks Graham for the DQ here. That sets up…

  • “Superstar” Billy Graham vs. The Barbarian (w/Paul Jones).
    Graham looks horribly old here. Lots of kicking, punching, and chopping. There’s a bearhug in there at one point. Jones finally hits the panic button and hits Graham with his cane for the DQ at 3:02 to put us all out of our misery. You wouldn’t think that three minutes could seem like a long time. You would be wrong. 1/4*

  • NWA National Tag Titles: Ole & Arn Anderson vs. Wahoo McDaniel & Billy Jack Haynes.
    Arn you know. Ole you probably know as the shit-headed booker, but he was a decent wrestler before that. Together, they formed the second incarnation of the Minnesota Wrecking Crew. Wahoo was a chunky Indian, but a really tough guy according to legend. Think Dances-With-Snackwells. Billy Jack Haynes was an attempt to capitalize on the moderate success of the Billy Jack movies. In fact, he just called himself “Billy Jack” until writer/director/star Tom Laughlin threatened to sue. Haynes and McDaniel were the U.S. Tag Champs coming in. Haynes shoves Arn around the ring as Bob Caudel notes that no one has been able to break Haynes’ Full Nelson. Hmmm. Ole loses a slugfest with Haynes. Wahoo tags in and starts slapping people around. Arn is reluctant to step in there with him. Once he does, they trade headscissors and headlocks. The Andersons isolate in their corner and work his arm, as Tony explains, to neutralize his dangerous chops. This is just methodical, calculated surgery by doctors Ole and Arn. Wahoo finally rolls into a hot tag. Haynes comes in and unleashes havoc on the champs, buying time for Wahoo to recover. Wahoo tags back in and hits Arn with a chop. Ole has to make the save. The finish sees Wahoo laying into Arn in the Andersons corner when Ole sneaks up and pulls his feet out from under him. Arn falls on top and gets the pin at 8:59. McDaniel and Haynes didn’t provide much, but it was damn fun to watch the Andersons work as a team. **3/4

  • Atlanta Street Fight: The Midnight Express (w/Jim Cornette) vs. Jimmy Valiant & Miss Atlanta Lively (w/Big Mama).
    And now for something completely different – it’s Ronnie Garvin in drag? Why? Well, it’s ostensibly to screw with the Midnights, but the boys at the Blue Oyster Bar tell a different story. Total comedy match, which is a good thing after all the super seriousness. Garvin shows ass – literally – but winds up knocking Eaton out of the sky with an uppercut for the win at 6:36. Short and inoffensive outside of seeing the moonrise. **1/2

  • After the match, Garvin and Valiant pants Jim Cornette. What their next step is, I don’t know. Not sure I want to know. The Midnights make the save, smashing Garvin in the head, and nearly causing him to bleed to death in the middle of the ring. Ew.
  • NWA Heavyweight Title: “Nature Boy” Ric Flair vs. Dusty Rhodes:
    Flair broke Dusty’s ankle and formed the Four Horsemen to set up this match. Rhodes is challenging and is listed as weighing 275 lbs. That’s somewhat dubious. This is a rematch from the infamous Starrcade ’84 where the match was stopped because Rhodes was cut open and bleeding everywhere. By “everywhere”, I mean his eye brow, the area directly above his eye, and a tiny fraction of his forehead. Rhodes struts to start and Flair’s gaze burns a hole in his chest. They trade blows in the corner and Rhodes gets the better of it. Flair no-sells it (for him) and pops back up only to find another barrage waiting for him. He rolls out to think things over. Back in and Rhodes hits an elbow to Flair’s crown and Naitch rolls out again. Rhodes takes Flair down in a hammerlock but Flair goes after his knee to counter. The champ backs Rhodes into the corner and delivers a series of chops. Flair drops a knee between the eyes and Rhodes kicks out before a one count. That must have pissed Flair off because he goes after Rhodes’s injured knee knocking big Dust out of the ring. Rhodes comes back with a vengeance taking the Nature Boy down on the apron and stomping his leg. A legvine continues to bring the pain and Rhodes drops an elbow between Flair’s legs which is promptly no-sold by Flair. Ric rakes his eyes to counter but a follow-up suplex is unsuccessful. Well, I think we all saw that one coming. Rhodes drops another elbow on Flair’s leg and this time Flair counters to a chinlock. Flair shoots him off the ropes and into a sleeper but Rhodes rams Flair into the turnbuckle to counter. More stomping on Flair’s leg. That’s a pretty good strategy, I guess. Rhodes flips Flair over with the laziest snapmare in the history of snapmares. He misses an elbow, though, and Flair goes up top. This can’t lead to anything good. Naturally, Rhodes slams him off. Rhodes tries a figure-four but Flair kicks him away and tries one of his own. In an odd moment, Flair appears to actually lift Rhodes’s leg so it looks like he’s kicking him just so Flair will have something to sell. Flair flips over and out of the ring. Rhodes goes up this time and there seems to be a miscommunication as Flair tries to cut him off and Rhodes just bellyflops on him. Good God, Flair is a grease spot! It only gets two so Rhodes backs him into the corner and pounds away. Flair flop! Rhodes whips him into the turnbuckle for the kill but Flair flips out of it and goes up again. This time he flies off into a fist to the gut by Rhodes. The challenger moves in again but Flair kicks him in the injured leg and puts on the figure four which Rhodes then no-sells and reverses. Rhodes no-sells some chops and hits a “flying” clothesline. Flair kicks out so powerfully that he tosses Rhodes right onto referee, Tommy Young. How unfortunate. Rhodes puts Flair in the figure-four but Arn Anderson runs in to attack Rhodes. Rhodes fights him off but Ole Anderson attacks from behind and slips out while the new ref comes in. Flair goes for the figure-four but Rhodes small packages him for the victory and the title at 22:08. Much better on second reviewing. The match had a number of awkward moments, but the psychology and intensity were tight. ***

  • But, with all the chicanery in the title match, NWA President Bob Geigel would hand the title back to Flair the following week, causing David Crockett’s pillow to fill with tears each night.
  • The 411: This is a fondly remembered show as Jim Crockett Promotions was at its height. Magnum vs. Tully is an all-time classic, and one that you really have to see if for no other reason than it's one of the greatest blowoffs ever. The Rock 'n' Rolls' title win was a great moment, as was Dusty's title win (even if it didn't stick).

    Easy thumbs up here.

    411 Elite Award
    Final Score:  8.5   [ Very Good ]  legend

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