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The Furious Flashbacks – NWA Bunkhouse Stampede

March 24, 2008 | Posted by Arnold Furious
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The Furious Flashbacks – NWA Bunkhouse Stampede  

The Furious Flashbacks – NWA Bunkhouse Stampede

Dusty Rhodes puts himself over, Ric Flair just about retains the NWA title and Barry Windham runs into trouble at the hands of a shoe

January 24th 1988.

The Bunkhouse Stampede match came about in 1985. It was essentially a battle royal but with a twist. In a Bunkhouse Stampede the participants wear street clothes. Jeans and boots and whatnot. The use of weapons was also perfectly legal. The NWA was pretty hardcore compared to Vince McMahon’s family friendly WWF. Despite the differences both products were wrestling and the NWA’s Bunkhouse Stampede had a decent following. This was the first time it was presented as a PPV in its own right. To counter this Vince McMahon broadcast the Royal Rumble for free at the same time. Not that they were getting bitter over this war or anything.

We’re in New York City at the Nassau Coliseum. Hosts are Bob Caudle & Jim Ross. Tony is demoted to ring announcing. This is billed as the “Bunkhouse Stampede Finals” as the participants have already qualified. It allowed them to run some entertaining matches on the undercard. They obviously didn’t learn from that and booked Battlebowl later.

TV title – Nikita Koloff (c) v Bobby Eaton w/Jim Cornette

Eaton is well aware of how hard it is to get Koloff to perform and spends some considerable time stalling to begin. He also leads Koloff through the opening exchanges with locking up. Stuff that Nikita can’t fuck up. Eaton rocks him with a right hand but that just serves to upset the big Russian. Cornette leans in to tell Eaton that Nikita is bigger and stronger so don’t fight that fight. “Give it up cueball, you ain’t gonna win anyway” – Cornette’s sage advice for Koloff. They head to the mat with Koloff using his strength to stay on top. That’s 5 minutes already. If you can’t tell, they’re blatantly going to the time limit here. Nikita gets kicked out of the ring for a brawl on the floor. Eaton short cuts to rake the eyes and goes into a headlock for another couple of minutes. Cornette is doing something great here by passing ideas to Eaton and putting his racket in the way so not even the TV camera can pick it up. The man thinks of everything. Back to the headlock. This is swiftly becoming a real yawner. Crowd is audibly bored. Outside because the crowd seems to get excited by those ringside brawls so they run another one. Eaton gets run into the post a few times and hip tossed on the floor. Somehow Koloff takes a tiny bump and Eaton is back in front again. Koloff is selling way too much here. At least for my liking. Eaton was always best off taking bumps and using team work. He doesn’t have either here and just controls with rest holds that Koloff spends too long in. Basically the match is going nowhere fast. Hopefully they’re waiting for the last five minutes. Eaton switches to a hammerlock for another lengthy rest hold. Crowd are again audibly displeased. Still in the hammerlock with five minutes remaining. Crowd remains displeased. Not the best of starts to the PPV if we’re honest. Still in the hammerlock. Nikita throws a few elbows and gets out into a sloppy clothesline. He barely hit Eaton with it so Eaton had no idea how to bump it. Back to the hammerlock. Crowd dies on its ass. Still in the hammerlock. Still in the hammerlock. Koloff gets to his feet and throws a couple of elbows. Jumping armbreaker from Eaton and we’re back into the hammerlock. Time is in the process of expiring. Eaton is doing nothing to win and Koloff literally shouldn’t care because he retains if the time expires. Odd that Eaton, the challenger, would put the match in the cooler from around the second minute. Koloff hits the Sickle as time is expiring but we’re out of time. *. Wow, was that ever BORING. And I love tactical stuff. They didn’t tell any kind of storyline. Eaton didn’t even work the right arm to stop the Sickle. Literally 20 minutes of rest holds. Horrible choice for an opener.

UWF Western States title – Barry Windham (c) v Larry Zbyszko w/Baby Doll

Was Larry ever young? Even back in the early 80’s they were calling him a veteran. Although to be fair he’s looked the same for the past 40 years. If you don’t have a physique you can’t lose it! Baby Doll has words with Barry. He ignores her. If it was attitude era he’d clothesline her and the crowd would love it. Not that us wrestling fans suddenly became misogynists overnight…more that it became ok for us to cheer that sort of thing. Remember that hammerlock in the last match? The one that bored the shit out of the crowd? Larry tries for one, thus pissing the crowd off, and Barry counters out inside of 10 seconds. See! Not hard. Windham instantly is more of a crowd pleaser than Koloff. Larry tries to kick at Windham but gets blocked. He bails to stall a while. Crowd would buy that more had the last match not been so horribly boring. See what happens when you have a bad opening match? The rest of the card suffers because of it. Larry takes the leg after Baby Doll distracts. Windham doesn’t want to counter out again because that’d be one dimensional and instead counters into a pin THEN punches his way out. Variety is the spice of life! Windham shows he has some moves on him with a drop toehold but Larry counters and then hits his own into a leglock. So far we’ve had a solid mental battle but not enough to wake the crowd up from the first match. Windham gets a decent pop for a powerslam and the crowd is even upset when Larry kicks out. Yes, for that prestigious Western States title. Can’t have that falling into the wrong hands! Barry misses off the top and Larry takes the leg. JR reminds us that the Four Horsemen did a number of Windham’s knee. Larry breaks out a rare sight – the gutbuster over the shoulder. Mainly because it was supposed to be a shoulderbreaker and he fucked it up. The benefit of this match over the last one is that every time Larry looks to put Windham in a lengthy rest hold Windham either powers out, wrestles out or punches out. He won’t let anything stay on him too long UNLESS the hold is on his injured leg. That shows his weakness, which is great psychology. It tells the crowd the story. Windham does have the advantage of just being stronger so he can keep Larry at arm’s length with punches. Windham breaks out a dropkick but can’t follow up because his leg is bad. Then he hits a suplex and can’t floatover or hold him up for long because his leg is bad. Windham has the common sense to switch to a belly to belly instead and then a sleeper. Use stuff that doesn’t put any pressure on the knee. Again, great psychology from Windham. Larry has nowhere to go but the ropes and gets saved by bailing, again. Windham feels the end is nigh and follows. His mistake though as Larry runs him into the post. Larry is too tired to follow up though and lies around in the ring so Windham drags him groin first into the post. “ERK” thinks Baby Doll. Her grimace is brilliant. But not as brilliant as the next spot where Larry can’t run off a whip and collapses while Windham is in mid air and his flying clotheslines goes through the ropes instead. Great selling, great psychology and great idea. Barry tries for a sunset flip back inside but Larry just punches him in the face for 2. Hey, why do something fancy when something simple works so well? Windham counters him into a backslide. Crowd is really getting into this now. Larry wants a piledriver but Windham backdrops out and they’ve totally got the crowd back into the show. Cheers, guys! Windham goes all fan friendly as a result of the response with corner punches. Ref gets bumped and Windham has this won with a roll up. No referee. Baby Doll counts 3 to confuse Windham. Larry grabs the shoe off Baby Doll and whacks Windham in the face with it for the pin. New champion! **3/4. Really enjoyed that match once it got going. The psychology was grand. But fuck Larry Zbyszko. I can’t stand the man.

NWA title – Ric Flair (c) w/JJ Dillon v Roadwarrior Hawk w/Paul Ellering

Hawk comes out to Ironman by Black Sabbath. Nothing sabotages the title match like not putting it on last AND sticking a tag team wrestler in there instead of a singles guy. Oh well. I guess Dusty knew what he was doing. The idea being that you feed any musclehead to Flair and he’d make them look like a million dollars. He let’s Hawk shove him around from the opening bell. Naitch retorts with chops. No sold. Hawk looks down as if to say “is that all you got?” Flair chops him again but bounces off on a shoulderblock and gets press slammed. Hawk slams him again and stomps away in the corner to a hefty pop. The crowd just loved seeing Flair get beat up. Flair doesn’t mind. You know Hawk loves getting offence in against the champ. Everyone’s a winner. Flair bails out. “NOOOOOOO”. Call for time out Slick Ric! No dice. Hawk suplexes him back inside. Flair gets kicked out of the ring again and falls at JJ’s feet. Dillon has this Baptist preacher look about it. PUSH OUT THE DEVIL MAH SON! CAST HIM OUT AND PRAAAAAIIIISE JEBUS. Flair rakes the eyes. NO SOLD! Hehe. Flair goes to the nuts instead. That works. Hawk has those muscular eyes. Flair rakes the eye, then the nose, then the mouth. That’s some serious face raking. WOOOOOO! Kneedrop. Hawk with a monster kickout. Now Flair takes it to the floor because it’ll be to his advantage to do some damage with those steel guardrails. Hawk misses that stupid fist drop. I don’t get the point of a fist drop. Just punch him. Same difference. Hawk blows out his knee. Uh oh. You know that’s blood in the water for Ric Shark. Hawk’s selling makes me chuckle because it’s so bad because he never sells anything. Flair goes low to add injury to insult and takes the knee apart some more. WOOOOOOO! Flair adopts the cocky, arrogant approach. He chops away but Hawk chops back so he back suplexes him. Hawk gets his knee wrapped round the ring post. FIGURE FOUR~! Flair keeps using the ropes so Hawk adopts the unusual approach of dragging Flair into the middle of the ring. Then turning the hold over. Flair sells that like CRAZY. He’s screaming. “Argh, my leg. Argh, Jesus Christ”. YEAH, SELL THAT SHIT! Flair bails then decides to go up top. Yeah, that never goes well. Hawk throws him off. Hawk chops away, Flair reverses, WOOOO but Hawk jumps at Flair with a lariat knocking over Flair and the ref. Hawk clotheslines Flair over the top. Oh, I’m feeling a Dusty Finish. Flair takes a header into the ring post and bleeds all over the place. Hawk powerslams him and it should be over but there’s no ref. The ref is really slow recovering. Flair goes up top again (he’s not very bright) and Hawk superplexes him. Again it should be over but JJ runs in and chair shots Hawk. LAME chair shot. Hawk ignores it then decides to choke JJ. Flair grabs the chair and nails Hawk. Wow, that was a lame chair shot too. Ref is back in but Hawk kicks out. Flair with a vertical suplex but that’s no sold. Flair begs off. CLASSIC. Flair gets pissed off with being beaten up and chair shots Hawk for the DQ. ***. The standard for Ric Flair in the late 80’s. He bumps around like a nutter while some musclehead poses a lot. Probably Hawk’s best singles match, ever. I don’t remember him ever approaching something good before. Interesting to note that the NWA was willing to book DQ’s in their title match on PPV regardless of how many fans that pissed off.

They take forever to set up the cage for the Bunkhouse Stampede. If this was Mexico they’d riot. Or so Ricky Marvin claims. But he’s wrestled there and I haven’t so we’ll take his word for it. To kill time we see a slo-mo replay of Baby Doll’s shoe costing Barry Windham his crappy 3rd level title.

Steel Cage Bunkhouse Stampede

Dusty Rhodes has won the only two Bunkhouse Stampede’s to date. This has the benefit of being a battle royal in a cage. Which creates ridiculous levels of danger. Probably not as dumb as the Skywalkers match but up there. Participants here are; Dusty Rhodes, Tully Blanchard, Ivan Koloff, Warlord, Arn Anderson, Lex Luger, Barbarian and Roadwarrior Animal. This is a hideous mess as you’d expect. Wearing street clothes make the participants harder to identify. Nothing is happening though. It takes two minutes for Dusty to try and throw Tully out of the door. No one thought to bring weapons to this shindig. The cage is a pretty handy weapon but seeing as everything is legal you’d think someone would have brought a weapon in. Hell, Koloff has a chain in a normal match! Barbarian tries to throw Dusty’s fat ass over the top. Not a chance. Barbarian falls off inside the ring. Tully is the only guy doing anything interesting twice coming off the top of the cage. The first time successfully, the second time caught in an Animal powerslam. Arn & Tully decide to get some teamwork on the go. Which Warlord and Barbarian would be wise to do as well but thus far haven’t. There are several bladejobs. Koloff in particular is quite bloody. Still no one eliminated. Still no cheating really. Tully is the first to take his belt off and start wailing away. That serves to piss Dusty off and Luger goes nuts too. The faces whip the heels. Kinky. Luger gets himself tied to the ropes. Arn is busted. Animal too. Koloff tries to use a belt buckle to cut Dusty’s arm and lo and behold gravy comes out. Hey, Dusty could stand to lose some weight anyhow. Like about 300lbs. Still no one out. Animal tries to throw Arn over the top. Warlord tries to stop him but gets headbutted back into the ring. Tully chokes Koloff with his belt and tries to drag him through the door. Come on, we can’t even kick Koloff out? Koloff gets out of Tully’s assault but Animal throws him over the top and he’s gone!

That is a ridiculous fall for an old timer. Animal presses Tully onto Arn. The Horsemen and Paul Jones Army remain a threat as groups but still haven’t used their team mates. Animal kicks Warlord out of the door and he’s gone but Animal stumbles out too courtesy of someone dropkicking him from behind.

Dusty/Luger v Barbarian/Horsemen then. Luger goes nuts and powerslams Tully. It seems if you need someone to take a cool bump then summon Blanchard. Luger racks him but Tully grabs the cage to protect himself and escape. The Horsemen decide to team up to get rid of Luger, which makes good sense because he’s started to dominate the match. Meanwhile Barbarian is punching at Dusty’s arm while the American Dream just sits there in the middle of the ring like a big fat lump. The Horsemen try again to throw Luger out but Tully gets wrong side and has to scramble back in through Luger’s legs. Arn ends up in the wrong part of town and together the Horsemen drag Luger out but Arn was supposed to be a sacrifice, I feel anyway, but Tully was meant to stay in and he tumbles out as well leaving Dusty and Barbarian to compete for the $500,000 cash prize win.

Paul Jones passes in some sort of brass knucks and he wails on Dusty but although he’s down you still need to get him out and he’s really fucking heavy. Dusty gets back to his feet and they brawl around the doorway a bit. They head up the cage instead and Dusty elbows Barbarian over the top for the win. *1/4. Dull. Crowd reaction, if you’re listening, is mixed. I think there’s a feeling among Northern crowds that Dusty was a little overrated, overhyped and overexposed. Not to mention overweight. The concept isn’t much good and the Royal Rumble is always more entertaining because of the nature of the match. War Games was a much better NWA/WCW concept than the Bunkhouse Stampede.

The 411: The Flair & Windham title defences were both entertaining but nothing really special. Just little bits of psychology in Windham’s match and Flair doing the usual. The opener is tremendously boring and the Stampede match is a waste of time. Not a horrible show but certainly not a good one.
 
Final Score:  5.0   [ Not So Good ]  legend

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