wrestling / Video Reviews

Random Network Reviews: Starrcade 1985

January 7, 2017 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
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Random Network Reviews: Starrcade 1985  

WCW Starrcade 1985
November 28th, 1985 | The Omni in Atlanta, Georgia and Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, North Carolina | Attendances: 18,000 (NC); 16,000 (GA)

Of all of my reviews so far, this is the oldest WCW review. Starrcade, for those unaware, was WCW/NWA’s biggest show of the year. This event featured some of the biggest names in the 1980’s and would take place in two separate venues (before WWF pulled off three venues for WrestleMania 2). It was the third of eighteen Starrcade events.

It amazes me that I actually like the production on the opening of this show more than anything WCW was putting out 10-15 years later. Tony Schiavone’s mustache is on Tom Selleck levels of manly. He and Bob Caudle are handling commentary.

NWA Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Championship
Krusher Khrushchev vs. Sam Houston

So it looks like the title is vacant due to a dispute between former champion Buzz Tyler and head booker Dusty Rhodes over money. He left, never to work with Jim Crockett Promotions and this is a newly designed title. For those unaware, Houston is the half-brother of Jake Roberts. Krusher is actually Barry Darsow, who also played Smash and Repo Man down the line. Houston uses his speed to get Krusher in trouble. None of what they do is particularly interesting though the crowd pops for a lot of Houston’s stuff. Krusher goes to the power game and press slams Houston. We get the dreaded bearhug to wear down Houston. I just noticed the referee’s attire and it’s a normal shirt and pants, but in all yellow. How did I not see this before? Houston thinks he wins after a bulldog but Krusher gets his foot on the bottom rope. His premature celebration is killed when Krusher lays him out with the RUSSIAN SICKLE!

Winner and New NWA Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Champion: Krusher Khrushchev in 9:28
Really basic, generic opener. The crowd was hot for some of it but they did nothing even remotely interesting. I did pop for the sickle though. Also, Houston had his foot on the bottom rope too, leading to a feud between these two.

Mexican Death Match
Abdullah the Butcher w/ Paul Jones vs. Manny Fernandez

Abdullah attacks quickly and lays in the headbutts. Manny quickly gets busted open and retaliates by busting Abdullah open with a cowbell. Or maybe Abdullah just bled because he’s like the black Ric Flair in that sense. For some reason, this death match has a sombrero on a pole. It’s a weird stipulation for a match like this. Manny beats on Abdullah with his boot for a bit. Both men make failed attempts at retrieving the elusive sombrero. Manny surprises many with a suplex. I love the random shots of the fans celebrating in the strangest ways. One woman enjoyed that suplex to the tune of rocking back and forth in her chair with her arm raised. Fernandez nails the flying burrito. I shit you not, that’s the name. It’s a flying forearm like El Matador’s flying jalapeno. Manny gets the sombrero after a second burrito and a clothesline off the second rope.

Winner: Manny Fernandez in 9:07
This was strange. The pole stipulation was odd in this sort of match and, for being a death match, this wasn’t very violent at all. The Atlanta crowd was hot which helped.

Krusher Khrushchev gets interviewed about the win and he doesn’t even try to put on a Russian accent. He stumbles through the awkward promo and it’s just awful.

Texas Bullrope Match
Black Bart w/ JJ Dillon vs. Ron Bass

If Bass wins, he gets five minutes with Dillion in a Bullrope mach. It’s an old school cliché but I don’t hate it. If you want a match featuring moves and fancy stuff, this isn’t the place for you. These two guys literally just club away at each other nonstop for the duration of the match. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen less actual moves from a match that goes this long. Due to this, both guys are bleeding like crazy within minutes. Commentary is weird on this show, staying completely silent for almost a full minute at times. Bart is pretty much covered in red halfway through. Finally, Bass ends Bart with the cowbell coming off of the second rope.

Winner: Ron Bass in 8:34
The match itself sucked. Kudos to them for fighting as hard as they did through all of the blood. That’s about all I can say good about this. ¼*

Texas Bullrope Match
JJ Dillon vs. Ron Bass

Dillon jumps in immediately to attack Bass. He removes his shirt and it isn’t pretty. Dillon chokes him with the rope until Bass gets up and turns things around. Dillon does the typical heel pleading stuff while taking the beating. There’s a ref bump allowing Bart to hop in and nail Bass with a piledriver, giving Dillion the win.

Winner: JJ Dillon in 3:29
Nothing really to rate here. It was about what you’d expect. NO RATING

The Barbarian w/ Paul Jones vs. Billy Graham
Prior to the official match, these two compete in an arm wrestling contest with the winner earning $10,000. It’s every arm wrestling contest in wrestling history as the babyface rallies to win only to get attacked. Paul Jones hits him with his cane as the official match starts. Again we have blood as Graham gets cut early. Graham survives Barbarian’s offense and locks in a bearhug. As Barbarian looks to be out of it, Jones enters and again attacks with the cane.

Winner via disqualification: Billy Graham in 3:02
Another short, dull match. Barbarian clubbed away, Billy did a bearhug and we got the DQ. That was it. DUD

Billy Graham steals the cane and hits Jones softly with it. Barbarian attacks from behind and they fight on the outside.

NWA National Championship
Terry Taylor (c) vs. Buddy Landell w/ JJ Dillon

Landell is basically a Ric Flair cosplayer. His mannerisms are mostly good though his strut could use some work. Taylor takes him to the mat where Landell complains about imaginary hair pulling. Landell lays in with the Flair chops and even does the Flair flop when he runs into a boot. Wow, he even takes backdrops like Flair. Commentary claimed this would be fast paced but it is actually moving rather slowly as Landell wears down the champion. Taylor rallies with some turnbuckle smashes until we get a ref bump. He gets up quickly only to lead to a SECOND REF BUMP IN 10 SECONDS! Dillon goes to use his shoe but Landell gets thrown into him. Taylor goes for a superplex, but Dillion trips him up so Landell falls on him. He lays there for a while as the referee makes the slow crawl and count, giving us a new champion.

Winner and New NWA National Champion: Buddy Landell in 10:26
Nothing special here. Landell’s Flair impersonation is kind of funny, but everything else in this is kind of just there. The finish sucked something fierce too.

NWA National Tag Team Championship
The Minnesota Wrecking Crew (c) vs. Billy Jack Haynes and Wahoo McDaniel

Wahoo and Billy hold Florida’s US Tag Team Titles, which aren’t on the line. Haynes stays with Arn in the early goings so he tags in Ole to give it a shot, who does a bit better. Arn ends up grounding Wahoo and the champions start to isolate him. They work his arm, which always makes me laugh because I called him “Arm Anderson” when I was a kid. The heat doesn’t last too long but the fans pop for the Haynes hot tag anyway. He does the standard stuff, including the DOUBLE NOGGIN KNOCKER. He is ripped by the way. Haynes makes the mistake of tagging Wahoo back in and it all goes downhill. Ole trips up Wahoo twice and holds his leg on the second one to allow the champions to retain.

Winners and Still NWA National Tag Team Champions: The Minnesota Wrecking Crew in 8:57
Tough match to call. There wasn’t anything to make you really think this was good, but nothing to make you say it was outright bad. They worked tag formula and did the cheap finish, which was fine but it all felt kind of rushed. As if they might have had a fifteen match planned but were told they were getting less than ten. **

NWA United States Championship Steel Cage I Quit Match
Tully Blanchard (c) w/ Baby Doll vs. Magnum T.A.

They actually introduce Magnum as “vastly popular”. I’ve heard a lot about this match and it’s the only one I’ve seen to combine these two stipulations. Magnum’s facial expression is great at the start. These two just fire away at each other while the crowd goes nuts. Tully is really the first to use the cage as a weapon and it shows as Magnum is bleeding. Magnum answers with a hot shot into the steel. With Magnum in control, he asks the now bloodied Tully is he quits, but he doesn’t. Tully’s arm is cut open too, which is sick but an awesome visual. Only about seven minutes in and both guys seem like this has been a war. Tully uses the microphone to attack Magnum after he denies quitting. Now its Tully’s turn to hot shot Magnum into the cage. He goes up top and nails an axe handle as I realize how short the cage is. At least they were honest and said it was ten feet and not fifteen. Baby Doll is having a hard time watching the brutality. In an insane move, they roll around digging into each other’s cuts. JESUS CHRIST! The crowd comes unglued for a second for Magnum offense before Tully stops it with an atomic drop. A wooden chair is brought into play and Tully smashes it. I was confused but then he takes a sharp piece of the rubble and TRIES TO STAB MAGNUM! Magnum fights him off tough Tully doesn’t fully fall off. He turns it around and proceeds to jab it the piece into Tully’s forehead! Tully shouts “yes” several times over, quitting.

Winner and New NWA United States Champion: Magnum T.A. in 14:43
Oh my god. That was one of the most brutal matches I’ve ever witnessed. You felt the intensity and the hatred between both men. Not many performers are able to portray that but these two mastered it. The suspense you felt with each violent attempt, the drama of who will quit, the sheer brutality, the hot crowd and the satisfying victory all made this special. One of the best finishes ever and one of the best matches ever. *****

Atlanta Street Fight
Jimmy Valiant and Miss Atlanta Lively w/ Big Mama vs. The Midnight Express w/ Jim Cornette

Miss Atlanta Lively is Ronnie Garvin in drag. Why? I don’t know. For some reason, the Express are wrestling in tuxedos. Maybe to show that they are real men and Ronnie isn’t. I don’t know. This is pure chaos from the start with a lot of fight around the ring and some powder being thrown around. The belts come off as they whip and strip Miss Atlanta. Cornette comes in and lays out Miss Atlanta with the tennis racket. Ronnie looks absolutely ridiculous. Eaton goes up for the Alabama Jam but runs into a forearm that mercifully ends it.

Winners: Jimmy Valiant and Miss Atlanta Lively in 6:36
I didn’t like any of that. It wasn’t chaotic in the good way. It was just a huge mess fully of nonsense. DUD

Magnum T.A. gets promo time where he talks about being a fighting champion. Nothing special typically, but there was something about him that made things interesting.

NWA World Tag Team Championship Steel Cage Match
Ivan and Nikita Koloff (c) w/ Krusher Khrushchev vs. The Rock n’ Roll Express w/ Don Kernodle

Greensboro sticks with the steel cage theme. Despite being held in there, they follow normal tag rules with only two legal men in the ring at a time. The Express use their fast paced double team offense to combat the power of the champions. Though the commentary doesn’t consistently speak, it allows for the crowd to sound even louder. They go nuts on a diving fist drop. Ivan takes a bit of a beating since he’s the smaller man of his team. He eats a fair amount of steel too. Things eventually break down a bit and commentary brings up the no disqualification situation, which makes you wonder why they listen to the referee at all. A very close near fall comes but Gibson gets his foot on the ropes. He’s busted open and just continues to get tossed into the steel. Gibson eats the RUSSIAN SICKLE but the referee takes too long to count after taking a bump. Gibson makes the blind tag, allowing Morton to roll up Ivan and steal it.

Winners and New NWA World Tag Team Champions: The Rock n’ Roll Express in 12:22
Solid match here but it suffered from having to follow the insanely good previous cage match. The pop for the win was nuts and they worked it at a good pace, never slowing down or going too long. Second best match of the night easily. ***

NWA World Heavyweight Championship
Ric Flair (c) vs. Dusty Rhodes

Dusty’s entrance feels like a big deal. Both men are cautious at the start but when they go at it, Dusty lays into Flair with chops, elbows and right hands, sending him to the mat. Flair is forced to take a breather outside. It doesn’t help as back inside, Dusty lays into him with elbows. Flair finally gets in the driver’s seat a bit. He kicks at Dusty’s leg, which was totally oversold but I appreciated the effort. Dusty goes all the way over the guardrail for a breather. To retaliate, Dusty also goes after Flair’s leg, which the crowd goes nuts for. They work the mat for a while until Dusty takes the leg and wraps it around the ring post. We get all of the typical Flair stuff from the slam off the top to the corner bump. Somebody in the crowd “woos” with each Dusty right hand. Flair has bladed and I think I’ve seen more blood on this show than any other. Flair goes back to the leg and Dusty yells as it gets worked on. He slaps on the figure four but Dusty fights out and fights back. Now it’s Dusty’s turn and he applies the figure four. Arn Anderson shows up so he releases the hold. Dusty takes him out but Ole runs in and knees him in the back. The Andersons leave but Dusty kicks out of Flair’s pin. He then reverses a slam into a small package to win the gold.

Winner and New NWA World Heavyweight Champion: Dusty Rhodes in 22:08
I found this to be a fitting main event for the show. It wasn’t the best of matches but it was smart. Flair felt a bit overmatched early so he waited and made Dusty make a mistake. Dusty overcame the odds like good babyfaces tend to do and it all worked in front of the hot crowd. ***¼

The final score: review Not So Good
The 411
This was on the verge of being one of the worst shows I’ve ever seen. Nothing on the first half of the show is worth ever watching. Then you get a decent tag team match before things really get going. The US Title match is one of the best matches I’ve ever seen and a key reason why people saw such promise in Magnum T.A. The other steel cage match is good and the main event is a strong match featuring two of the best ever. Honestly, I could have ranked this show lower but it gets the slightest of recommendations for the US Title match. It’s a must watch for any wrestling fan.