NWA Jim Crockett Sr Cup 1987 (4.10-11.87) review
April 10-11, 1987
After WrestleMania III, it felt like I’d reached a logical time for a quick break in this odyssey. WrestleMania would come to feel like an ‘end of season’ for wrestling in years to come but WM3 was the first time it felt like this huge show that everything was geared towards and when it was over, you felt like you’d seen something special. Naturally, the NWA had a response and that was this show; the 1987 Jim Crockett Senior Cup. An issue the NWA was struggling with was that the WWF was slowly moving away from tag teaming and establishing big stars as ones who stood alone. In the NWA they billed shows, like this one, strictly around tag teaming. We’re in Baltimore, Maryland. 13,500 in attendance on N1, 18,000 for N2.
This isn’t on the Network but someone has uploaded a VHS rip to YouTube, so that’s what I’m working off. It’s a two hour supercut, which is about as much of this show as I feel inclined to sit through. I’m pretty sure I have the same VHS tape somewhere in my house.
Tony Schiavone welcomes us to “The Cup”. The opening match is the Thunderfoots (Thunderfeet, surely???) beating Bobby Jaggers and Rocky King. That does not make tape.
Mike Rotunda & Tim Horner vs. Bill Dundee & Barbarian
Rotunda just left WWF (about 6 weeks beforehand). Barbarian, increasingly, feels like a guy that Crockett has no idea what to do with. He desperately needed to teaming with a like minded individual. Instead he’s got Bill Dundee as a mouthpiece. Shenanigans occur and Dundee hits Horner with the old International object for the pin. I couldn’t see what he used. It may have been nothing, because he concealed the punch and the object so well. He worked the whole thing ‘too well’.
Jimmy Valiant & LazorTron vs. Shaska Whatley & Teijho Khan
I’m taking the spellings right off the screen. Khan was an American dude with a gimmick. He was a powerhouse but never got over and didn’t last in the business. He was retired by the early 90s. LazorTron (or Lazer Tron if you’d prefer) is Hector Guerrero under a mask. They’ve gimmicked him up to the wazoo. He’s supposed to be a robot, I think, but the fencing style mask is a giveaway that he’s not. Hector is handily the best worker in this by a mile. Shaska can just about hang with him. Dumbshit Jimmy Valiant won’t get out of the ring on a Guerrero pinfall so Hector ends up backdropping Shaska out of the ring for a lame DQ. Shame. I would have liked to see more Lazer Tron to see the gimmick in full action.
We skip over some matches here. Jimmy & Ronnie Garvin over Ricky Lee Jones & Italian Stallion. Denny Brown & Todd Champion beat Bill & Randy Mulkey. George South & Steve Keirn vs. Mike Graham & Nelson Royal went to a double DQ in NINETEEN MINUTES. Hoooo, fuck. I’m glad that got cut.
The Russians vs. Brad & Bob Armstrong
With Nikita turned babyface, Ivan has turned to Vladimir Petrov. Another very limited strong man. If you watched wrestling in 1987, you’d know who he was, otherwise you wouldn’t. This is his career, right here. Petrov gets caught nailing one of the Armstrong’s with the old international object (literally, it being a Russian chain) and they’re disqualified. The crowd LOVES that finish. The Armstrong’s here are the father-son pairing of Bullet Bob and the future Badstreet.
We also lose MOD Squad vs. Von Raschke & Wahoo entirely. Good! That’s R1 in the books. It only took up 15 minutes of tape.
We skip Manny Fernandez & Rick Rude (the #1 seeds!) over the Thunderfoots (again, surely this is Thunderfeet). We also skip Dusty & Nikita over Dundee & Barbarian making the choice to show Dundee & Barbarian’s R1 match even more puzzling. Road Warriors squash Shaska & Khan but that didn’t make the cut either.
Midnight Express vs. Jimmy & Ronnie Garvin
Jim Cornette takes his usual beating. The one thing most of these great managers have in common is coming through Memphis. This is the first time we’ve seen the NEW Midnight Express. Stan Lane has replaced Dennis Condrey, who just upped and left one day. He didn’t tell Crockett. Hell, he didn’t even tell Cornette or Eaton that he was leaving. Ideally, you could have turned Bobby Eaton into a huge singles star at this point but hey, hindsight is 20-20. Midnights vs Ron Garvin is good stuff here. Cornette absolutely tags Ronnie with the tennis racket and he gets counted out.
Another crowd pleaser from Big Dust is having Robert Gibson come down while the ring announcer tells us Ricky Morton is injured. They knew he was injured and carried on advertising him anyway.
We skip more second round stuff like Baba & Isao Takagi advancing against Brown & Champion. The Armstrong’s continue on their fairy-tale push by beating Arn & Kevin Sullivan. The Horsemen team of Luger & Blanchard eradicate the MOD Squad. That’s it for R2, so we literally only see one match!
Steel Cage Match
Big Bubba Rogers vs. Ole Anderson
So, a lot has happened here. Ole got kicked out of the Horsemen and has been replaced by Lex Luger. That has turned him into a massive babyface but he’s also on the verge of retiring so you’d question the point of this. My booking concept, first time around, was to have Ole head up a team of younger wrestlers (like a nice JJ Dillon) and go after the Horsemen. Ole hits a piledriver here and Bubba can’t answer the count. That’s the finish huh? Wow.
END OF NIGHT ONE. A fucking disaster by all accounts. A consistent stream of failure. Almost everything was designed to piss the crowd off, so they’d be happy Ole Anderson won a main event on a 10 count. The NWA/Dusty booking in 1987 left a lot to be desired. Dusty, while a great ideas man, needed someone to control that flow.
For some bizarre reason, despite clipping a metric tonne of stuff from this release, they take a while to pay tribute to the career of Magnum TA and show three special attraction matches
Magnum TA vs. Wahoo McDaniel
This is a cage match for Wahoo’s US title. It’s his fifth and final run as US champion. This happened in Charlotte for NWA Worldwide from March 1985. TA wins with his patented belly to belly and the crowd goes wild!
Magnum TA vs. Kamala
This is from the 1985 Great American Bash. It went on third top behind Flair-Koloff and Dusty-Tully main events. TA is clearly mega-over and everything gets popped. Magnum wins on DQ but then gets the belly to belly anyway and counts his own pin.
Magnum TA vs. Tully Blanchard
This is the famous “I Quit” match from Starrcade ‘85. They beat the shit out of each other, scream into the microphones a lot and TA wins by jabbing Tully in the face with a piece of broken chair. What might have been if TA hadn’t been in that horrendous car wreck.
Midnight Express vs. Road Warriors
This could and probably should be the final. The trouble is; the Road Warriors won last year. In order to get anywhere the Midnight’s have to cheat against the powerhouse duo. Hawk takes a shellacking, including a tennis racket shot to the ribs and a horrible looking bump over the top into the apron. Road Warriors comeback is great with the MXP taking a beating. The ref gets bumped, it’s carnage in there. Cornette hits Animal with a fireball and Paul Ellering jumps in with the racket to clean house. This is the DQ as it’s the first infringement the ref saw. Absolute madness towards the finish though. **¾
The crowd are HOT about the Roadies losing but honestly, that whole sequence at the finish ruled. I wouldn’t be mad about it.
Dusty Rhodes & Nikita Koloff vs. Manny Fernandez & Rick Rude
Manny and Rude are tag team champions, hence #1 seeds, but you know Dusty isn’t lying down for either of them. Rhodes decides to take almost the entire match. Presumably he thought he was better equipped to take heat than the jacked up Russian on the apron. Dusty ‘rolls through’ a crossbody for the win. Or, as it actually happened; Manny landed on his face, Dusty fell over and then they improvised a cradle. Nikita never even tagged in!
Tully Blanchard & Lex Luger vs. Bob & Brad Armstrong
The father-son pairing is the Cinderella story of the tournament. Obviously, the dirtbag Horsemen will put a stop to that. Luger is still learning the ropes and one way to get better is to sit under the Tully Blanchard learning tree. That’s what the Horsemen were for. JJ Dillon helps Tully on a double clothesline on poor old Bullet Bob. The ref doesn’t see it. Tully was way ahead of everyone in this. I often think how far Tully could have gotten pushed in other eras or companies. Always in Flair’s shadow.
The tournament confuses me here as Baba & Takagi won their second round match but then never wrestled a quarter final. I assume they had a bye, but why? Is it because of the Rock N’ Roll Express? It is, isn’t it! Got there. Figured it out.
Dusty Rhodes & Nikita Koloff vs. Midnight Express
MXP’s reward for besting the Roadies is losing to Dusty and his Russian mate. This is Nikita’s chance to show he can take heat. He’s wearing a neck brace, which is the obvious target. Cornette has Bubba out here, because he needs a bodyguard, and Bubba allows the smaller MXP an effective strong presence. His assaults from the floor generate the heat that make Eaton’s holds work afterwards. The whole MXP package was working perfectly at this point. As with Dusty, Koloff makes his own comeback and finishes with the Russian Sickle. This was good. Not as good as the Road Warriors match but a nice time at the wrestling.
We skip over Luger & Tully beating the Japanese team because apparently there’s no Baba on this tape at all. Oh well.
NWA World Championship
Ric Flair (c) vs. Barry Windham
In doing so, we skip ahead to Flair-Windham III. Flair-Windham I was at Battle of the Belts in 1986 (****¼). I loved that match but it dragged a little bit. Flair-Windham II was in January 1987 and it rules. It’s one of the finest matches of the 80s and one of the best wrestling matches to this point (*****). So, no pressure on part three of the series.
Windham came so close to winning in Flair-Windham II that he comes in as a favourite. It’s overconfidence that’s his undoing. He gets caught in a Figure Four because of it. Windham does a great piece of work in the Figure Four, literally dragging Tommy Young into position to see Flair’s cheating. The way the match is put together is to demonstrate Windham’s capabilities as an athlete. He’s got the beating of Flair so Flair has to find various shortcuts to work around that. Barry is on his prime game. The suplex with the floatover is so effortless here. As is Flair’s corner bump and the way he collapses running the apron afterwards. Two wrestlers at their peak.
The one fuck up is a crossbody over the top, where they mistime it and they fix it! Flair just drops off and Windham falls backwards through the ropes. Windham comes back in with a missile dropkick and Young counts the three, although Flair’s foot was on the rope. They’ve got the crowd here because Barry has absolutely proved he can win the belt tonight now. Flair then fucks everyone over by beating Windham with a handful of tights on a reversal. This fucking ruled. What happened to this Barry Windham? He had outstanding matches with Flair and then just went back to being a midcard guy. ****½. The middle match from their trilogy in terms of quality.
Gary Michael Cappetta brings out Magnum TA to come and watch the main event. He’s still struggling to walk and has his arm in a cast.
1987 Jim Crockett Sr Cup Final
Tully Blanchard & Lex Luger vs. Dusty Rhodes & Nikita Koloff
Tully, the sadist that he is, targets Nikita’s neck injury and the crowd responds. That’s basically the whole match. Luger does ok, but just follows Blanchard’s lead. Dusty’s hot tag is borderline embarrassing. He can’t hit spots at the speed required to maintain the pop. At least his elbows look good. We go for another big chaotic finish with JJ hitting Nikita with a shoe. Tully goes to piledrive Koloff, who’s not legal, and that noted highflier Dusty Rhodes comes off the top for the crossbody win.
The only good tournament match was the MXP-Road Warriors match. That had a ridiculously hot finish. The rest of the tournament was…tiring. At least Dusty & Nikita had a story with Koloff overcoming his neck issue. You do, however, get a special bonus Flair-Windham match, which is choice viewing material. This is on YouTube if you want to watch the VHS rip. If anyone from WWE is reading; it’s on there because it’s not on the Network, sort your shit out!