July 30, 2023

NWA Crockett Cup (4.19.86) review 

NWA Crockett Cup (4.19.86) review 


April 19, 1986 


I found the 3-hour runtime of WrestleMania 2 to be a bit of a bummer. Not to be outdone, the NWA put out this four-hour monstrosity just weeks later. The Crockett Cup, or the Jim Crockett Sr Memorial Cup to give it the full name, was a tag team tournament from teams all over the NWA. I’m sure the AWA would have been involved too if Crockett Jr hadn’t fallen out with them by this point. Teams competing represent these promotions; JCP, All Japan, Lutte, CWA (Memphis), CWF (Florida), CSW, UWF (Mid-South) and Portland.  


We’re in New Orleans, Louisiana at the Superdome. There is no commentary on this show. I’ve reviewed this show before but it was a tape version, with all the matches on but lots of it was clipped. This version jumps straight into match six.  


Fabulous Ones (Stan Lane & Steve Keirn) vs Fantastics (Bobby Fulton & Tommy Rogers) 

Stan Lane looks rugged here. I can practically smell testosterone. An issue I’m going to have with this show, is the sheer amount of tag team formula because that’s all anyone knows in 1986. The Fabulous Ones were a Memphis tag team, which got so over they’ve jumped to Crockett. They’re technically still representing Memphis here but left the territory at the end of 1985. Steve Keirn is the worst wrestler in this and he’s not bad at all. Most people with a bad opinion of Keirn only saw him wrestle as Skinner. Fulton is Ricky Morton here. He gets his buttocks exposed and then he’s thrown over the top rope. The poor boy is almost weeping.  

Rogers eventually gets a hot tag, Fulton blind tags back in and rolls up Keirn to advance. This was decent but it ran long for very basic formula tag team action.  


Rick Steiner & Buzz Sawyer vs. Italian Stallion & Koko B. Ware 

Steiner is really young, second year in the business and learning from Buzz. I hope he’s not paid him any money, he’ll never see that again! Buzz scammed a bunch of wrestlers out of money, including the Undertaker. He was apparently a complete dickhead in the ring too.  

The Italian Stallion you might know as WWF jobber Gary Sabough. Enhancement is about his level. He’s bleh. Koko is winding down on the territories and would join WWF in a few months. He was splitting time between Memphis and Florida so it’s not a big loss for Crockett or anything. The last version I saw of this reduced this match to the finish. I can see why! Buzz takes a lot of overly exaggerated bumps and Rick does very little at all. He barely has anything about him. He’s got the beard but that’s it. Black trunks, black boots. Koko plays Ricky Morton here and that goes on for way too long. Rick doesn’t have good control periods at all. The finish is awesome though. Italian Stallion gets a hot tag but runs straight into a hardway powerslam from Buzz. It fucking rules. He just jacked him over dead weight. The 15 minutes that preceded it? A total pass. 


Black Bart & Jimmy Garvin vs. Dave Peterson & Brett Sawyer 

Brett is Buzz’s brother. Why didn’t they just team up?  

He looks like a hairier, fatter version of Buzz. Brett is probably the best worker of the four, but that is a low bar. They have him take the heat segment and he takes that beating pretty good. Garvin drops Peterson on his head for the win. Not even sure what it was supposed to be. A DDT perhaps? This was dreadful and I’m glad it was quite short. 




So, a bunch of good teams got byes to the second round and the scrubs had to qualify against each other.  


Midnight Express vs. Nelson Royal & Sam Houston 

Nelson & Houston beat the Batten Twins earlier tonight. The Midnights take them apart in short order. Royal eats the pin. Bye lads, thanks for coming.  


Magnum TA & Ronnie Garvin vs. Rick Steiner & Buzz Sawyer 

Rick and Buzz didn’t get much rest did they? The show had some timing issues, which is probably why they’ve barely had any rest. It also explains the rapid nature of the last couple of matches.  

If you ever wanted to see Magnum TA vs. Rick Steiner, this is the show for you! It’s not very good. Magnum gets isolated for the heat, which is unwelcome, if I’m being polite. Garvin hot tags in, beats both guys up, Magnum comes back in blind and hits the belly to belly to beat Rick.  


And that friends is the conclusion of the afternoon show. The afternoon show had a much smaller crowd, and the evening show drew around 13,000.  

Tony Schiavone and Jim Ross talk about the rules for the tournament. Piledrivers are ok! Over the top rope is a DQ. JR introduces the “greatest anthem in the land, the national anthem”. Glad he cleared that up. A young Bruce Pritchard is the ring announcer.  


Wahoo McDaniel & Mark Youngblood vs. Road Warriors 

The Roadies are seeded #1. Having watched them just annihilate jobber teams, it would be great fun if they just wiped Mark Youngblood out in 45 seconds or so here. Sadly they try and have a ‘competitive’ match, which no one wants to see. Maybe there’s a curio of Wahoo trading business with the Roadies but not really.  

Hawk has Youngblood beaten with a diving lariat and Wahoo jumps in there to break it up and doesn’t. He just stands there, awkwardly. Forget what the finish was Wahoo? Never mind, mate, it happens to the best of us.  


Shaska Whatley comes out pre-match to yell about Jimmy Valiant and how he’s a “yellow coward” and a “white Uncle Tom”. Wow. I don’t even know how to process that.  


Jimmy Valiant & Manny Fernandez vs. Ivan & Nikita Koloff 

Eddie Gilbert is in the heel corner. I wasn’t aware of his Russian links but maybe that’s how he funded Hot Stuff Incorporated before sponging off Missy Hyatt.  

Having watched the size and power of Nikita Koloff, I remain stunned Vince never went after him. His only flaws were being too big and immobile and hell, that’s what Vince booked his entire territory with. Manny does a good job of being worked over for heat and Nikita is learning how to control matches better. Valiant gets the hot tag and it is HOT. He’s mega over. I never really ‘got’ Jimmy Valiant. Nikita whacks Jimmy from outside the ring though and Ivan pins him to move on. This was ok but I could have lived without another big heat segment.  


Rick Martel & Dino Bravo vs. Steve Williams & Terry Taylor 

Dino is a no show. He’d end up in WWF a few months later. Coincidence? Bruce tells us Dino Bravo has appendicitis so Doc and Terry advance via forfeit.  


New Zealand Sheepherders vs. Rock N’ Roll Express 

Oh no, not this match. I once swore I’d never watch the fucking Sheepshaggers again but here we are.  

Imagine being evil New Zealanders. The very concept makes me chuckle. It’s one of the least threatening countries in the world. What’s next, a stable of evil Welshmen? An evil stable from Luxembourg? While it is true that the Sheepherders, as a team, were better than the dreadful Bushwhackers, it’s still those same guys doing a lot of the same stuff. They can’t bump. They can’t sell. They can’t move around the ring. Butch is first ballot Hall of Fame for worst wrestlers of all time. He’s so bad and so uncoordinated that I can’t believe he made a career out of it. The Rock N’ Rolls do their best to hold this together. Firstly Gibson by taking the heat segment and then Morton from the hot tag. Then Jack Victory jumps into the ring with the New Zealand flag. Morton hits him with it and the ref calls that a DQ…with the Sheepherders winning. Jack Victory was literally in the ring! How is that a DQ the other way? Unbelievably shitty match with an unbelievably shitty finish.  



Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard vs. Fantastics 

Oh, this should make amends for that last match. Arn & Tully as a tag team wasn’t really a ‘thing’ here but they’re both representing the Four Horsemen so fuck it, stick them together. The Fantastics were one of the best babyface tag teams in the business in the mid 80s. Tully does a great job of being an asshole and yet putting over Tommy Rogers in a way that makes him look comparable to Magnum TA, which he isn’t but he looks that way because of how Tully puts over his speed. Arn does a similar, but slower, job for Fulton. Arn is so young here he almost has hair. We get a heat segment, again, with Fulton the victim. Tully mercilessly cheating and pulling trunks like a son of a bitch. Arn allows the hot tag by hurting his own knee. The bumps both heels take are stupendous. Arn takes back over but Fulton dropkicks Rogers on top of him for the three. Lots of heat here and the crowd goes wild at the outcome. It’s a shame they didn’t have Arn & Tully win, along with the RNR to set that up as a QF. Fantastics vs. Sheepherders just doesn’t have the same appeal. This is supposed to be a great match but it’s merely good. ***½  


Black Bart & Jimmy Garvin vs. Giant Baba & Tiger Mask II 

All Japan sending Baba and Misawa suggests to me they weren’t taking it that seriously. If they wanted to win, it would be Tsuruta & Tenryu surely? Misawa vs Jimmy Jam Garvin isn’t really what you think of when you think ‘great Misawa matches’. Meanwhile, Bart sells like crazy for Baba, perhaps hoping for an AJPW tour. He did end up in Japan the following year but working for NJPW. Heels work heat on TM as we hit the middle point of this entire show. Jesus, it’s been long. If you’re watching along at home with these, you can skip ahead to Arn & Tully. By 1986 Baba wasn’t in great condition. “Get that big old slow poke out of there” says a ringside fan. Baba wins with a big boot.  




Road Warriors vs. Midnight Express 

MXP are the NWA tag team champions, but the Road Warriors are the Road Warriors. This is a Bobby Eaton masterclass in getting your ass kicked by a big powerhouse team and yet not making it look like you should have lost after 30 seconds. You know what I mean? He takes a bunch of bumps, usually one after another, but they’re all little moves. Condrey gets perplexed by Hawk no selling and runs away. Jim Cornette whacks Animal with the tennis racket and the Midnight’s are disqualified. This was a weird ending, presumably so the Midnight’s could say they didn’t lose to the Roadies and therefore didn’t have to defend the belts. Good match until the finish though. Eaton was particularly good. **¾ 


Ivan & Nikita Koloff vs. Steve Williams & Terry Taylor 

I can’t tell if Doc dramatically improved in the first quarter of 1986 or whether Ivan Koloff is that good at selling and bumping. One thing is certain; Doc looks like a star here. It’s compounded by Terry Taylor coming in and looking like the bang average guy he’s always looked like. It’s not just that Williams does power stuff. His whole persona in this seems more important. Like he’s suddenly flicked a switch and now he’s a superstar.  

In wrestling most guys become the guys they’ll be forever after 3 years and if they’re good, then it’s good news. Doc is three years in. Doc spends the match slowly demonstrating his capabilities against both Russians. Keeping up with Ivan’s technique and speed, keeping up with Koloff’s power. This guy would have been great against Flair. They needed challengers! The trouble is, Doc works for Bill Watts. This could have had a nuclear finish, but they keep Terry in there for the last three minutes or so. Madness. Nikita has Terry beaten with the Sickle but the time limit expires at 20:00 and both teams are eliminated. ***¼. A genuinely good contest with a star-making turn from Steve Williams.  


New Zealand Sheepherders vs. Fantastics 

A reminder this could have been Arn & Tully vs. Rock N’ Roll Express.  

Fulton gets the crowd all fired up by making them recite the pledge of allegiance pre-match and you’d better believe the Cajun vitriol is flowing, gushing forward, after that. Them fuckin’ Kiwi sumbitches come over here, eating our gumbo and cornbread. Fuck them motherfuckers. The start to this is a bit tentative, which is frustrating after that pledge stuff, but it picks up when they brawl outside, and Fulton gets busted open.  

Aww, the poor ickle American got bloodied by a big nasty New Zealander. Fulton’s sell of it is special. He looks like he’s genuinely having trouble comprehending the blood loss and the state he finds himself in. The match soon degenerates into blood lust as Luke is opened up. The ref gets thrown out of the ring, along with Tommy Rogers. With no one to supervise the violence it gets even more chaotic. Everyone ends up bleeding with Rogers doing his on camera after being waffled with a flagpole. Tommy Young runs down here and disqualifies everyone. Even Jack Victory ended up covered in his own blood here. There’s claret everywhere! Meltzer went full boat on this but given that it’s a crazy brawl with no finish that barely resembles a match I don’t think I can go anywhere near that high. It was the perfect use of the Sheepherders though, as two vicious savages who bloodied up the pretty boys. ***½ 


Magnum TA & Ron Garvin vs. Giant Baba & Tiger Mask II 

Given the DCO and DQ finishes of the last two matches, this is now for a place in the finals against the Road Warriors.  

Magnum comes out here looking hot, like somebody shit in his cereal. His work is so clean and thoughtful. I keep wondering what would have happened if TA hadn’t had that car crash in 1986. He was clearly on the cusp of something great. He certainly would have won an NWA title. He would have been around as a surly veteran during the mid 90s WCW stuff. Maybe he’d have been in WWF during Attitude. Maybe he’d have been a legend in Japan. Like with the collapse of the Von Erichs (Kerry also got hurt bad this year) it’s ‘what might have been’ situation. The thought process he puts into working against Baba is what fascinates me here.  


As with almost every ‘dream’ Misawa clash from when he was Tiger Mask II, it doesn’t live up to the expectations. Misawa wouldn’t get good until he ditched the gimmick and even then, he was at his best with guys he knew well. He wasn’t like Flair, travelling and having great matches with everyone. Garvin is ok here, although he prefers working with Baba where they just hit each other. Baba is Baba. He looks horrible. Misawa comes off the top but gets caught in the belly to belly for the Magnum win. There was a lack of chemistry here, but TA came out of it looking good.  


UWF North American Championship 

Jim Duggan (c) vs. Dick Slater 

WWF were signing so many guys off the territories, they even signed Dick Slater in 1986. Duggan would follow suit in 1987. One of them was suited to the WWF nonsense, one of them was not. Duggan is better pre-WWF, but this isn’t one of the matches to cite for that. We’re well into a long, long show and people want some action. Slater does a lot of chinlocks. His offence is generally misguided. The match is ugly as shit and Slater is supposed to bump into Earl Hebner. He misses and stomps Earl instead. Audible laughter from the crowd for that. The worst Three Point Stance shoulder tackle you’ve ever seen finishes. This was a clear DUD. Dreadful wrestling.  


NWA Championship 

Ric Flair (c) vs. Dusty Rhodes  

More interesting than yet another Flair-Rhodes main event is Baby Doll screaming at Flair during this. To the point where I think of Flair as the babyface in all this. Flair gives a mini-masterclass in cheating here. He calls for Tommy Young to “watch the tights” and when he leans around to check Flair punches Dusty right between the eyes. Beautiful. Dusty figures that’s sufficient motivation to slice his forehead open.  

I mean, with these two, I’m surprised someone didn’t blade off the lock up. Baby Doll does a good job here of selling on behalf of Dusty. She looks freaked out. Presumably because Dusty bladed over his right eye, and it looks particularly bad. Flair works Dusty’s leg a bit but that goes nowhere and Flair blades on the floor. It’s a deep one too, so there’s probably more juice here than in that blood-soaked Sheepherders match earlier.  

The finish is carnage. Tommy Young gets knocked out of the ring so Flair goes to smooch Baby Doll. Dusty takes offence, whips off his boot and whacks Flair with it. Then when Tommy Young DQs him he hits him too and walks off with the belt he didn’t win. What a dick. This was actually ok. They didn’t do a Dusty Finish and both guys bled buckets. Best Flair-Dusty match to this point. *** 


Jim Crockett Senior Cup 

Magnum TA & Ron Garvin vs. Road Warriors 

They went down the sporting goods store and got this big old generic trophy. This being a scientific match (all babyfaces) it’s interesting to see how it pans out. It’s strangely heatless because big babyface vs babyface matches rarely happened. Nobody seems to know how to react. The Roadies lack intensity as a result, not able to really batter Magnum TA because no one wants to see that. Instead, they work a lot of nothing holds. Given the babyface alignment of both teams, it makes Hawk’s selling, or lack thereof, worse than usual. Ron socks Hawk in his rock hard skull, breaks his hand and Animal pins him. This was pretty awful. It’s much worse than I remember it.  


The 411: 

Good lord, this show is so long. By 1986 standards, it’s just too long by miles and the crowd reactions die off during the show because of it. By the time the main event rolls around they’re sick of wrestling and want to go home.  

The tournament concept is too bloated, and they have way too many teams. The show does have a couple of great Fantastics matches, which enforces my opinion that they were one of the finest teams in the world in mid 80s. Steve Williams had a great showing and Flair-Dusty was better than all the other bouts they had before this. Come the end of the year awards, I may stick this in the worst category for making me through four hours of this. I didn’t go back to the 80s to sit through long shows. I can do that now!  

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