Since last Starrcade Ric Flair has held the title for all but 18 days. He lost the title to Kerry Von Erich at World Class Championship Wrestling’s “Parade of Champions,” an event which was held to honor the recently deceased David Von Erich. Obviously, they weren’t going to have David’s brother lose the championship match at the memorial show. Besides that interruption, Flair has been champion all year. But now he faces his toughest test: his old rival Dusty Rhodes. Not only will the NWA Championship be on the line, but they will also battle for the largest purse in the history of professional wrestling: $1,000,000.
We start with a quickly replay of Flair defeating Race at Starrcade. We then go to a quick introduction from Gordon Solie. The show begins with a light show. This is before they could afford fireworks, apparently. It riles up the crowd.
NWA Junior Heavyweight Championship: Mike Davis (c) vs. Denny Brown
No entrances or entrance music for either man. Earl Hebner is referee and receives some boos. Mike Davis was part of the Rock N Roll RMPs, a knock off of the Rock N Roll Express. There’s really nothing in Denny Brown’s Wikipedia page, so I can’t tell you anything about him. These guys are the smaller wrestlers of the company, though they really wrestle the same technical style as most anyone else. Both guys show respect and sportsmanship, which is a little strange to see looking back.
Three minutes into the match Solie says it’s been “grueling” for both men. They do two double knockout spots in the course of two minutes. Brown’s offense largely consists of forearm shots. Davis hits a Belly to Back Suplex and bridges into a pin, but Brown pops his shoulder off the mat at the last second and Davis is pinned. Both the announcers and the ring announcer are confused. Brown is the new Junior Heavyweight Champion, but no one really seems to care.
Analysis: 1/2*. Really nothing there. Short, but it felt long.
Backstage a very young Tony Schiavone is in the locker room.
Mr. Ito vs. Brian Adidis
Ito is a Japanese savage and a heel. He gets pretty good heat. Brian Adidas is introduced as “very popular,” and that is in fact the case. Adidas was a mainstay in World Class, winning multiple tag team championships with the Von Erich brothers. A few years after this he would run the biggest angle of his career by turning heel on Kerry, claiming he was being held back. Adidas is a typical 1980s pretty boy with a long mullet. Ito wears no shoes and tights down to his knees, much like Umaga would years later. They exchange basic holds for a few minutes until Adidas performs an Airplane Spin for the victory at 4:00 even.
Analysis: 1/4*. Too short to be anything real. Crowd was into both guys, so a real match would have been nice.
NWA Florida Heavyweight Championship: Jesse Barr (c) vs. Mike Graham
Barr is probably best known for playing Jimmy Jack Funk in the WWF in the late-1980s. Graham is the son of Eddie Graham, founder of Championship Wrestling from Florida. He never achieved much of any success outside of his father’s territory, but was a member of the creative team in WCW in the late-1990s.
Graham dominates the early mat portion of the match. Barr works an Armbar for several minutes. Graham gets out and connects with a Drop Toehold and an Indian Deathlock. He goes for a Figure Four but Barr escapes. Now it’s Graham’s turn to work the Armbar. Later, Barr applies a Headlock. Graham gets out of that with a Kneebreaker and applies a Leg Lock. He then transitions into the Figure Four. Barr quickly grabs the ropes. They exchange pin combinations until Graham hits an Atomic Drop. Barr counters with a Single Leg Takdown and pins Graham with his feet on the ropes at 11:43.
Analysis: *1/2. Not bad when they were actually up and moving, but most of it was just holds that went nowhere. Longer than it needed to be.
The Zambuie Express (Elijah Akeem and Kareem Muhammed) vs. The Assassin and Buzz Tyler
Akeem and Muhammed are Muslim militants. The Assassin is a masked hitman and is just a guy. This is an elimination match, which is a little strange for a two-on-two match. Man, Muhammed and Akeem are BIG. Good responses for all four guys in this match. The Express are managed by Paul Jones, a white man in a tuxedo with a cane. Not sure why that is the case. The Express remind me of King Mo and Mabel. Not a compliment. Tyler and Kareem fight on the floor and are both counted out. Then Assassin falls on top of Muhammed and pins him. Huh? That’s it at 5:26.
Analysis: Dud. Nothing there. Lot of filler on this card.
We go to the back, where Schiavone interviews Dusty Rhodes. Dusty says tonight is to determine who the greatest wrestler in the world is. He said a lot more than that, but that was the point.
Brass Knuckles Heavyweight Championship: Black Bart (c) vs. Manny Fernandez
Fernandez enters to Michael Jackson’s “Beat It,” which is awesome. Of course, there’s no camera on the entrance way so we can’t actually see anything but Bart chilling in the ring. The Brass Knuckles Championship is the Hardcore Championship of its time. So this match has no time limit, no disqualifications, and no count outs.
Bart is managed by J.J. Dillon and is the heel in this match. Their fists are taped, so I would expect lots of punching. This basically turns out to be a boxing match. Fernandez blades a few minutes in. They proceed to fight out on the floor, which is kind of a novelty at this time. Bart rolls under the ring and blades. Bart takes over with more punches. Shortly thereafter Ferndandez rolls Bart up for the pin at 7:35.
Analysis: *1/2. Eh. Some decent brawling there.
We go back to Schiavone, who is with Ricky Steamboat. The lights immediately cut out. We then cut back to the announcers. They stall and we go back to Steamboat. Steamboat’s pretty terrible on the mic at this point. He rambles for a few minutes without any confidence.
Loser Leaves Town Tuxedo Street Fight: Paul Jones vs. Jimmy Valient
Not recapping this. Jones wins at 4:35.
We go to the back to hear from Ric Flair. He says whether people like him or dislike him, he’s the best in the world.
NWA Mid-Atlantic Championship: Ron Bass (c) vs. Dick Slater
Bass had a lackluster run in the WWF as “Outlaw” Ron Bass. Here, he’s “Cowboy” Ron Bass. A lot of stalling to start as Slater chases J.J. Dillon. Slater controls with some basic mat work and an Atomic Drop. His character seems to be that he’s a total lunatic. Bass takes over and rocks him with some punches. Bass follows that up with a Bulldog.
Slater comes back with a series of jabs. Bass throws Slater to the floor. More punches from Bass. Slater ducks a punch and connects with a Belly to Back Suplex. Dillon gets in the ring and gets slammed. Slater slams Bass and drops a leg. He covers, but the referee calls for a disqualification because Slater through him out of the ring during his comeback at 9:12.
Analysis: *3/4. Not terrible, but neither guy had a ton to offer at this point.
Ivan Koloff and Nikita Koloff vs. Ole Anderson and Keith Larson
Evil Soviets versus guys everyone likes. Larson may only be getting a pop because he’s from North Carolina. Kernodle was aligned with Ivan until his “nephew” Nikita showed up. They turned on him, so his brother Keith Larson stepped up to defend the family honor. Larson pounds on Ivan in the ring to start. Larson and Ole tag in and out, working on Ivan’s arm. They work the arm for minutes on end.
Finally, Ivan manages to rake Ole’s eyes and make a tag to Nikita. Nikita is fresh and dominates with power moves. He applies a long Bearhug. Ole breaks out by boxing his ears. Ivan tags in and slams Ole. Ivan tags back in and applies another Bearhug. Anderson breaks it and crawls for the corner. Hot tag to Larson! Larson pounds both Koloffs. Nikita gets control back with a clothesline and choke. They all brawl in the ring. Nikita goes outside and drops Kernodle with a big clothesline. This distracts the referee and Ivan hits Larson with some kind of foreign object. He covers for the pin at 15:28.
Analysis: **1/2. Decent tag match. Slow pace, but worked the crowd well.
Brawl after the match. Larson gets laid out. Koloffs leave in dominant fashion.
NWA Television Championship: Tully Blanchard (c) vs. Ricky Steamboat
Looking forward to this. Steamboat enters to “Eye of the Tiger.” Was Hogan using that at this point? Good theme tune regardless. Tully enters to a song that my phone identifies as “Far From Over” by Frank Stallone. I find that funny. Steamboat is selling bad ribs after a beating a few weeks ago. Both men have bet $10,000 of their own money on this match. The winner will take all. Also, if Tully is disqualified or counted out he loses the title.
Tully goes to the ribs right away. Steamboat quickly takes over with punches and a Snapmare. Steamboat is flying all over the ring. Way ahead of the stuff we’ve been seeing so far on this card. Just as I praise the pace, Steamboat applies a chinlock. Steamboat sells his ribs. Blanchard goes after them. Rib Breaker by Blanchard followed by kicks to the ribs. Solie begins to question Steamboat’s decision to compete while injured. Steamboat fights back with chops. Steamboat applies a chinlock.
Tully gets out and goes back to the ribs. He hits a big Belly to Back Suplex. They mat wrestle and end up breaking. They run the ropes and Steamboat connects with a big Powerslam. Steamboat pounds on him with punches and chops and the crowd loves it. Swinging Neckbreaker by Steamboat. He follows that with a Slingshot Suplex, but Blanchard kicks out again. Dropkick by Steamboat. Steamboat hits some punches and Blanchard blades. Blanchard pulls a foreign object from his trunks and hits Steamboat with it. Blanchard tries a Superplex but is thrown off. Steamboat hits a Body Press from the top for a near fall. Steamboat tries a Sunset Flip, but Blanchard hits another shot with his foreign object and gets the pin at 13:17.
Analysis: ***1/2. Entertaining match. Good combination of action and psychology. Wasn’t wild about the finish.
NWA United States Championship: Wahoo McDaniel (c) vs. Billy Graham
Graham is long past his prime as WWWF Champion. He enters to the disco classic “Kung fu Fighting” by Carl Douglas. Apparently, he’s now a karate master. That’s a big step down from his “Superstar” character. McDaniel enters to the same “Far From Over” song as Blanchard. Not sure what the deal is there. Maybe that’s the generic heel theme? They start with a test of strength and McDaniel confusingly wins it. He’s not only a heel, he’s also a big fat guy wrestling one of the strongest wrestlers ever. Graham grabs the hair and throws him to the mat. They exchange punches until Graham applies a Full Nelson. McDaniel gets the ropes. Shortly thereafter, McDaniel hits a chop and pins Graham at 4:18.
Analysis: 1/4*. That was pretty terrible. Graham was totally washed up by this point. This was pretty much his last match of any significance. Felt a lot longer than the four minutes they went.
Schiavone interviews Joe Frazier, the referee for this match. He also interviews Duke Keomuka and Kyle Petty, who will serve as judges for this match. In the event of the 60 minute draw, the judges will decide the winner. Don’t think that’s going to happen…
NWA Heavyweight Championship: Ric Flair (c) vs. Dusty Rhodes
Dusty is out first to Prince’s “Purple Rain.” There’s also some smoke and flashing lights. Doing the best they can with a limited budget and technology. Flair is out second. “Thus Spake Zarathustra” plays at first, followed by “(Oh Lord) It’s Hard to Be Humble” by Mac Davis. Works thematically but not really musically. Flair is wearing a beautiful pink robe covered in sequins. They introduce the referee, judges, and competitors. Frazier gives instructions and we kick things off.
Dusty hits the Bionic Elbow early and applies a headlock. Flair gets out and hits some chops. Dusty answers with jabs. Dusty applies another headlock. Flair gets chops, a Snapmare, and a Knee Drop. Flair misses a Knee Drop and Dusty applies the Figure Four. Flair gets the ropes after ninety seconds or so. Dusty drops an elbow on Flair’s knee. He applies a leghold. Flair breaks it and Dusty gets him in a wristlock. Flair charges but Dusty sends him flying with a Military Press. Dusty whips Flair to the corner and he goes flying over the turnbuckle to the floor. Dusty suplexes Flair into the ring.
Frazier with an agonizingly slow two count. Flair gets the advantage with a back elbow. He goes up top but gets caught and thrown to the mat. Flair throws Dusty into the ropes and applies a Sleeper Hold. Dusty manages to hip check him out of the ring. Dusty follows him to the floor and is thrown into the ring post. The camera pans in to show that Dusty is bleeding. Dusty gets back into the ring. Frazier checks the eye but allows the match to continue. Flair attacks the eye repeatedly. Frazier stops the match at 12:12 due to Dusty’s cut.
Analysis: **3/4. Good match that needed a real finish. I don’t think there’s any reason there couldn’t be a definitive winner or loser there. If they want to keep the title on Flair but protect Dusty he can cheat to win. Flair ended up turning heel later in the year anyway. The finish they chose just completely screwed over everyone who paid to see a fight.
The crowd doesn’t really cheer or boo the finish, they’re just kind of quiet. Flair celebrates with the title and heads to the back. Dusty is worked on by the doctors.
In the back, Schiavone interviews Flair. He brandishes his million dollar check and says he went all out in the ring. It wasn’t his fault Frazier stopped the match. He says you can count on seeing him at the Starrcade main event again next year.
Schiavone interviews a pissed off Dusty. He wants to fight Frazier. Thankfully, that never happened. Dusty says he’s coming for Flair.
The announcers wrap things up and send it to a crude highlight package.
Overall: Not a good show. The main event was decent and Steamboat/Tully was good, but nothing else was notable. Definitely a step down from the previous year.