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The Name on the Marquee: NWA Battle of the Belts (9.2.1985)

September 29, 2014 | Posted by Adam Nedeff
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The Name on the Marquee: NWA Battle of the Belts (9.2.1985)  

-Tooling around YouTube one night and I found this gem. It’s done under the NWA banner but it’s really a Championship Wrestling from Florida supercard that was syndicated across the country.

-Originally aired live on September 2, 1985.

-We’re at the Sundome in Tampa.

-Your hosts are Gordon Solie & Mike Graham. Graham immediately regales everybody with the story of how it was originally his idea for commentators to wear neckties and headsets during wrestling shows.

-We go backstage to Coach John Heath…uh, sends us over to Buddy Colt. Buddy Colt says we’ve got great wrestling action tonight. And then sends us back to Gordon & Mike.

-Gordon & Mike discuss Hurricane Elaina, which has sort of reaked havoc on the card. 500,000 people in the Tampa area were evacuated from their homes a few days earlier and were only granted clearance to return to the city of Tampa this morning. Also, air traffic coming into the city is a nightmare, so Rick Martel will not be wrestling on tonight’s card as scheduled. Well, if you didn’t already believe that God is a Hulkamaniac, there you have it.

The Crippler is Rip Oliver, and The Grappler is, uh, The Grappler. Half the lights in the arena go out and we hastily go to a commercial break.

-Back from commercial, ALL of the lights go out as Gordon mentions that there’s a hell of a thunderstorm going on tonight. A few lights return as Grappler gets pretty easily outwrestled. Chavo takes control of Crippler with flying headscissors and the Guerreros team up to work the arm.

-We have another power outage while Chavo drops the leg on Grappler’s arm. The lights finally come back on in full force, getting the biggest pop of the show so far. Pier sixer breaks out and the Crippler and the Grappler get Irish whipped into each other. Guerreros follow that by using both guys as battering rams and running their heads together. They follow that with a  rowboat and Crippler & Grappler go to the floor to regroup.

-Crippler takes a cheap shot from behind to take Hector down. Grappler plants him on the turnbuckles just to Flair-slam him. Backdrop and a bearhug as Crippler goes to work on the back. Hector breaks free and goes to the wrong corner, which is such a weird mistake for a babyface that I think he genuinely went to the wrong corner, and the heels capitalize with choking and double-teaming.

-And suddenly the feed gives out and we have a “Please Stand By” graphic.

-We return after not very long, with Hector in exactly the same predicament. Hector gets tossed to the floor. Mike mentions how dangerous it is to be on the concrete floor in a wrestling match, especially when somebody spills a Coke on the ground and makes it slippery. Of course, this being 1985, there’s no danger of slippery floors tonight because nobody was buying New Coke, so Hector should be able to recover.

-Back in the ring, Hector dodges a clothesline and connects with a bodypress for two, and the crowd goes crazy. Crippler cuts him off from the hot tag and brings in Grappler. Grappler misses a diving headbutt, and we get a weird spot where the tag is made, and the referee is there to see it, but for some reason it doesn’t count and Chavo doesn’t even try to go in.

-Brawl breaks out again and it stops the tag from being made again. Grappler wears Hector out with headlock, but Hector is still “getting life-giving fluid into his brain” so he breaks free. Crippler cradles him for two. Hector no-sells an atomic drop and then hits one of his own, and finally makes the tag with his last ounce of breath. Funny reaction from the crowd, because they’ve been screaming at every attempted tag for the past five minutes, but when the tag is finally made, they give it almost nothing.

-Another brawl and this match totally falls apart as the referee gets bumped in a really awkward spot during an abdominal stretch, of all moves to do during a brawl, Grappler accidentally knocks out his own partner with a “loaded 13-pound boot” and Hector gets the pin. Ref bump had no effect at all on the finish. Ring announcer gives the win to “Hector and Charo.” Coochie coochie, motherfucker. 1 for 1. It’s hard to dislike a Guerreros match after all, but it wasn’t THAT great. Good energy, but no story to the match and the finish was a mess.

KOKO SAMOA (with Miss Maxine) vs. “The Hustler” RIP ROGERS (with Miss Brenda)
-Miss Maxine is Mad Maxine who was in the WWF for about six seconds earlier in 1985. Samoa is either just a close friend or a legit relative of Jimmy Snuka, depending on who you ask.

-Koko clamps on headscissors right away and then switches to a wristlock. Koko’s movements and mannerisms are 100% a match for Jimmy Snuka to the point that I accidentally typed “Snuka” twice while trying to say that.

-Koko reverses an Irish whip but crashes in the corner and Koko gets a roll-up for two while Rogers is in the middle of trying to do some offense. Really funny bit where Rogers knows exactly what spot he wants to do next, but the referee can’t figure it out and Rogers screams “Get in between us, stupid!” so he can sucker punch Koko.

-Koko gets sent out to the floor, and Rogers brings him in to keep up the attack. He starts to go to the ropes and Koko walks away from him, so Rogers has to follow him and punch him a few times so he can get Koko into place for a turnbuckle spot.

-Koko goes off the ropes for a splash and Rip rolls over with not-enough-time to spare, so Koko’s head connects with his back and now neither guy knows which one of them should be selling here.

-Rogers gets tangled into the ropes like Andre the Giant, but unlike Andre, he figures out that he can stand up, so he gets out of the way when Koko tries to connect with a bodypress.

-Koko fights back with punches and headbutts for a two-count. Hiptoss and a dropkick by Koko for another two-count. Abdominal stretch is locked in by Koko. Miss Brenda gets on the apron to alert the referee to the presence of Maxine. Referee turns his back to Brenda long enough for her to KO Koko with her purse. Referee turns back around to get Brenda the hell out of the ring, and that gives Maxine an opening to interfere with a bodyslam so that Koko lands on top of Rogers for three. 1 for 2. This match had so many blown spots it’s a wonder they didn’t keep cutting to shots of Dick Clark & Ed McMahon chuckling about it at ringside.

-Please stand by.

-Jack Hart is best known as legendary WWF enhancement talent Barry Horowitz, coming to the ring to Van Halen’s “Jump,” which is wildly inappropriate for heel entrance music. Speaking of not suiting heels, Gordon goes on an extended tangent about how Percy Pringle’s mother was supposed to be in attendance for tonight’s event, but because of the bad weather, Percy Pringle’s mother had to stay at home and will not be here tonight.

-Hartowitz gets an early startowitz and clamps on a headlock, as we get a weird chyron identifying Percy as “The Bossman.”

-Kendall gets some impressive air on a shoulderblock, but Hart applies a bearhug. A bearhug doesn’t quite have the same impact when a 215-pound wrestler is doing it to a 175-pound wrestler, for the record. Pringle, at ringside, screams with “impotent rage” at his man.

-Hart blocks and fights off every attempted offensive move by Windham, treating him like, well, a total jobber, funnily enough. Gordon mentions that they might cut away from this match for a backstage interview with the competitors in the tag team match later in the night, but they’re still setting up backstage. I repeat, they’re preparing to cut away from the match for the territory’s main championship so we can listen to a promo.

-Kendall finally shows some signs of life, but Hart puts a stop to that with another bearhug. You know what? Actually, just have the interview in the ring.

-Hart fires a series of uppercuts as Windham, and then just walks away so Kendall can take a breather. Snapmare by Hart and he follows with a rear chinlock. Jesus. If they have more technical difficulties, I feel like they’ll just show this match again instead of the “please stand by” graphic.

-Kendall dodges a bodypress of the second rope, and “Something Actually Fucking Happened” gets the biggest pop of the match so far. Series of clothesline by Kendall and a kneedrop for two. Kendall sets up for the Stampede (bulldog) but Hart goes to the eyes. He misses a clothesline, and Kendall hits a bodypress for three. Goddamn, really? 1 for 3. Kendall looked like wrestling’s jobbiest jobber for 90% of the match and then wins the belt on a fluke. You can’t help feeling that this territory was just giving up at this point.

-Coach John Heath, who you might remember from earlier in the night, talks to Harley Race. He’s teaming up with Stan Hansen tonight to face the Road Warriors for the AWA Tag Team Titles. He says that before the Road Hogs came along, he and Larry Henning held those belts for four years, and he’s ready to go. And he also wants a piece of Ric Flair or Wahoo McDaniel. He doesn’t like either of them and he wants his NWA Title back after they’ve had their match.

-Battle of the Belt is brought to you by Champion Appliances. Wow, now that’s just perfect synergy! Golf claps.

-Ravishing Rick Rude is billed as coming from Beverly Hills and has a beard that makes him look uncannily like Secret Agent P.W. Herman.

-They trade muscleman poses while Mike explains that big muscles aren’t very valuable if you lack joint strength. Atomic drop knocks Rude right out of the ring to start. Gordon has the presence of mind to justify to first time viewers while there’s a Southern Heavyweight Title and a Florida Heavyweight Title and gives a 25-words-or-less explanation of the NWA. Wish my grandfather had seen this; he wasn’t a wrestling fan and he was always flabbergasted by the NWA cards where they’d have a dozen matches and 11 of them were title matches. Odd camera shot takes us to an artist at ringside who is sketching scenes from tonight’s matches, like a courtroom sketch artist.

-Stuff finally happens in this match, as Rude fires a series of knees into the midsection, but Haynes fights right back and appears a chinlock. Weird commentary from Mike as he observes that “both men are 240 pounds, but you’d never think that these guys are actually that heavy.” Actually, both men are brick shithouses and 240 sounds a little bit light looking at Billy Jack here.

-Action winds up on the floor and Haynes gets rammed into the barricades, which are apparently a relatively new thing at this point, and Mike & Gordon both remind us at home that those barricades are there to make us think twice so we don’t get too excited and try to help our favorite stars, so PLEASE do not cross barricades at a wrestling show.

-Back in the ring, a rear chinlock by Rude. Haynes gets free but runs right into a backdrop. It’s hard for me to believe this, but Rude really is more built and more chiseled here than he was in his WWF/WCW years.

-Rude goes for a suplex but Haynes reverses and they collapse to the mat in exhaustion. Rude gets up first and goes for a fist drop off the turnbuckles, but Haynes rolls out of the way and starts putting the boots to Rude. Backbreaker and an elbow get two. Attempted press slam is thwarted by Percy Pringle, and Rude gets an opening to club Haynes over the head with Percy’s cane and KO him for a three-count. 1 for 4. They went straight from “really basic warming up” to “oh my god we’re both exhausted after this grueling match” with nothing really in between. Both guys stay in the ring forever afterward as if there’s a Dusty finish coming, but it turns out that’s it.

-Kendall Windham thanks the fans for their support.

-Buddy Colt talks to the Road Warriors and Paul Ellering, who is completely unrecognizable when he shaves. Stinkin’ faces and guts and going down and so forth.

-This was when the NWA and AWA attempted to cooperate in the name of taking down Vince McMahon, and it went to shit almost immediately with David Crockett trying to poach talent during the NWA/AWA shared events.

-Hansen & Race inexplicably enter to the Olympics fanfare. They meet the Warriors in the aisle and we have a brawl on the floor that spills into the crowd. Cowbells and tables are involved while Bill Alfonzo stands on the floor, looking totally confused.

-Everyone finally gets into the ring and Hawk drives a fist into Race’s skull for two. Brawl erupts yet again. Hansen and Hawk end up in the crowd exchanging chairshots. Order gets restored and Race takes Hawk off his feet and drops an elbow. Hansen tags in and drops another elbow for two. Hansen misses a charge and comes back with a back suplex while Animal & Harley brawl on the floor.

-Harley tags in and Hawk chokes the life out of him. Race suplexes his way to freedom. Hansen tags in and connects with a piledriver, and Hawk SELLS IT! Holy shit! Behold the power of Stan Hansen.

-Race tags in just in time for Hawk to get his second wind, throwing punches and bungling a press slam badly. Man, don’t do that shit with Harley. You want to be able to walk out of that arena without fear.

-We have a brawl on the floor and finally it lasts long enough for the referee to count everybody out and call it a night. 2 for 5. Four legitimate tough and/or crazy guys held nothing back and we got an awesome (albeit short) ultra-manly brawl.

-Buddy Colt talks to Ric Flair. Wahoo McDaniel insists that there’s nobody alive that could beat him twice in one night. All that means is Ric just has to prove him wrong tonight.

-This was supposed to be Rick Martel defending the AWA title against Bockwinkel, but the hurricane screwed that up, so instead, Bockwinkel just kicks the shit out of the jobber and calls it a night in three minutes. 2 for 6.

-Wahoo McDaniel says he had to fight a lot of red tape to get the kind of match he wants: two out of three, just the way he likes it.

The ring announcer thinks the initials stand for National World Alliance. Intro oddity: Flair hails from Minneapolis, even though he had officially “moved” to Charlotte two years ago.


-They dual for a top wristlock and Flair literally gets the upper hand on that one, but Wahoo reaches down for something extra and manages to get Flair down on the mat. Flair is ALREADY bleeding from the forehead and Solie is completely stuck for an explanation because the top wristlock is the only move they’ve done so far. That’s pretty funny. In fairness, it IS Wahoo McDaniel. There’s every possibility that Flair just started bleeding out of fear.

-Flair goes to the floor for a breather. Back in, some hard chops are traded and Flair gets the best of that battle. So the official rankings for chop intensity go #1, Flair, #2, Asians, #3, Native Americans.

-Flair stomps away at McDaniel and applies the front chancery. God as my witness, I don’t remember ever hearing that term before I began writing for 411 and now I watch the old stuff and they use the term all the damn time. I don’t know why I mentally blocked it.

-Wahoo throws chops and punches and Flair slides out to the floor to break the momentum every time Wahoo starts to get an advantage. Shoulderblock by Flair. Wahoo catches him off the ropes with a drop toehold and absolutely will not let go of his leg, so this time, Flair is finally stuck right where he is. Wahoo drops knees across the leg while holding onto it.

-Flair makes it to the ropes to force a break, but Wahoo has worked the leg so much that Flair is now too slow to get to the floor for a breather, so Wahoo goes right back to work on him. Flair begins fighting dirty with closed fists. Flair tries a pin with a foot on the ropes, but Wahoo won’t put up with that bullshit so he just punches Flair square in the nose over and over until Flair falls off.

-Chops are exchanged and Wahoo takes Flair off his feet with them. Flair gets up quickly and tosses Flair to the floor. Flair grabs Wahoo’s arm and twists it around the barricade, and unfortunately, Wahoo’s fans give it a second thought when they consider helping their favorites, and he’s stuck getting injured.

-Back in, Naitch stays on the arm and tries to get the pin, but Wahoo kicks out over and over and over. Flair tries an armbar. Wahoo throws chops while still trapped in the armbar, and they finally start to take their toll and force a break on Flair. Hard chop dazes Flair and he collapses to the mat, but it only gets two. More chops are traded and Wahoo suddenly clamps on the sleeper. Flair fights for his life, but finally makes it to the ropes…but he can’t hang onto the ropes, and he passes out. Wahoo takes the fall.


-Series of chops from Flair, but one chop from Wahoo is all it takes to drop him for two. More hard chops from Wahoo, and Flair goes clear over the top and onto the floor. Back in the ring, Flair finally targets the leg until Wahoo goes to the floor for a breather of his own. Flair pounces as Wahoo rolls back in and twists the ankle with one arm while slapping Wahoo around with the other.

-Flair clamps on the figure four, but Wahoo hangs on and reverses it. Flair lets go while Mike Graham talks about all the matches he’s won with the figure four. That’s the funny thing about Mike. Even when calling a wrestling match within the confines of kayfabe, he still makes everything about him.

-Flair gets frustrated and fires punches hard enough to make Wahoo bleed. Kneedrop gets two. Suplex gets two more. Abdominal stretch by Flair and he falls backward with it to make it a pinning combination for two. More chops are exchanged and we’ve reached the 45 minute match, and Mike Graham says he knows how impressive that is because he’s wrestled one-hour draws on numerous occasions.

-Bill Alfonzo gets bumped by the champ at a convenient time because he misses Wahoo’s backslide that would have got the three-count. Back to the floor, Wahoo eats post as Bill Alfonzo recovers. Flair rams Wahoo into the post again and rolls him back inside for the three-count to tie the match.


-Time is rapidly running out so now both men have cranked it up late in the match. Wahoo reverses a suplex right away for two. They trade chops until Flair tosses Wahoo to the floor. He tries the post again since it worked so well before, but Wahoo reverses and Flair goes into the post. Flair is wearing the crimson mask as Wahoo brings him back in for an Irish whip, and Flair does the flip out of the ring and back onto the concrete.

-Wahoo applies the sleeper again, but Flair does the Bret Hart counter off the turnbuckles and lands on top of Wahoo for three to take the fall and retain the belt. 3 for 7. Just fucking tremendous old school stuff. The 45 minutes soared right by, and these guys looked like they were fighting for their lives for every second of it.





The final score: review Poor
The 411
The main event is unmistakably a forgotten gem, the rest of the card is unmistakably forgotten. Find it on YouTube and just go right to the final match.

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NWA, Adam Nedeff