NWA World Championship Wrestling (11.2.85) review
Taped: October 27, 1985
Given that I’m watching SNME from 1985, I thought it was only fair to check out some NWA from Jim Crockett at the same time. It’ll be very different to the WWF. We won’t get skits and whatnot but we will get promos and a chance to get deeper into the promotion ahead of Starrcade ‘85. We’re in Atlanta, Georgia at WTBS Studios. Hosts are Tony Schiavone & David Crockett.
Schiavone started his commentary career around a year before this, doing Worldwide. He soon became the regular host of WCW, a show designed to showcase the NWA’s stars to a national audience and get the product over. Eventually being the shill show to get PPVs purchased. The aim of this show, for the next four weeks, is to get people to watch Starrcade ‘85, which is being held in two venues. One of which is the Omni in Atlanta so people who come to these tapings can watch the big show live and in person.
Manny Fernandez vs. Tommy Lane
We get a quick recap of the Blanchard-Magnum TA feud before heading into this opening squash. Manny finishes with the Flying Burrito (called that on commentary by Tony) in short order.
Promo Time: Ric Flair
Dusty Rhodes is nearing a comeback from when Flair broke his leg in September. Flair, who’s dad is a doctor, says that’s impossible. It’s a great promo, with Flair referencing a college football player who came back too early from a broken foot. “HE GOT CARRIED OFF THE FIELD”.
We cut to the Anderson’s, live in the studio, who say the same thing about Dusty’s comeback.
Buddy Landel vs. Tony Zane
Flair clone Landel in action as a fist swinging babyface here. Zane is a big dude but Landel slams him a few times and finishes with the Figure Four inside a minute. JJ Dillon is Landel’s manager and he wants to go after Terry Taylor’s National title. That’s happening at Starrcade. Rumour has it that Landel was lined up as a challenger for Flair in early 1986 given their respective “Nature Boy” nicknames. It sounds ridiculous looking back on it.
The Rock N’ Roll Express vs. George South & Mike Davis
1985 was the first year of the RNR taking off as a tag team. They’d lit up Mid-South in 1984 but getting booked by Jim Crockett had improved their standing. The legendary series with the Midnights started in Mid-South. They’re great here, both in singles and in double team action. It’s a shame I’ve seen so little of them so far. They’re on fire.
Promo Time: Tully Blanchard
He’s asked about Magnum TA and points out Magnum’s last shot finished in a DCO so he’s done. Bob Geigel comes in with pre-recorded comments where he’s refused Magnum TA’s request for an “I Quit” match.
Billy Jerk Haynes vs. Black Cat
Haynes has tights on with “Oregon” on the back, because he was over there and nowhere else. Well, Florida but who considers the opinions of Florida worthwhile?
Billy tries to kill the taping with a chinlock. Hey, what great TV, a guy sat in a rest hold in a squash. Tony explains, during this lengthy rest hold, that all the guys who have come to work here around Starrcade time are Dusty’s friends who are “Gathering” around him for support. Hence the title of the show; Starrcade ‘85: The Gathering. In case you ever wondered about that title. Billy Jerk finishes with the full nelson and we can move on with our lives. He literally wasted his entire TV time with chinlocks, what a loser.
Video Control takes us to Tony Schiavone who interviews Dusty’s doctor.
The doctor explains how Dusty is now wearing a fibreglass cast and a special boot.
Magnum TA vs. Keith Eric
They run the international right into Magnum’s belly to belly and he gets his hand raised in 13 seconds.
Promo Time: Billy Graham
Graham rambles a bit and Paul Jones barges in to demand Graham wrestle Abdullah the Butcher, thus cancelling the Barbarian arm-wrestling contest Graham was scheduled to have first.
Superstar Billy Graham vs. Abdullah the Butcher
This is an actual match, compared to all the squashes, and is dubbed part of the “Superstation Challenge Series”. Billy is animated here, although that might just be in comparison to Abby. Barbarian runs in for the DQ setting up Graham vs. Barbarian at Starrcade. Sadly, the arm wrestling has been cancelled tonight.
Pez Whatley vs. Benny Traylor
This is the ‘stand by’ match in case the Graham-Abby match didn’t run to an expected length. Tony takes a moment to congratulate newlyweds Joe and Julie Laurinaitis. That’s Road Warrior Animal and his first wife. A nice little insider bit there. Instead of another squash, this match runs nearly eight minutes. Of all the matches to give time to. The crowd are supportive regardless of what they’re seeing, and Pez finishes with a flying headbutt.
Promo Time: Black Bart
Well, technically JJ Dillon does most of the talking. Bart screams his promo into camera about how much he hates Ron Bass.
If Bart loses Bass gets five minutes with JJ Dillon. Bart, confident in his prowess, demonstrates how he can deal with being hit with a bell by hitting himself in the head with one repeatedly. Tony and David run down some of the matches we’ve got booked for Starrcade. Jim Crockett joins us to book Manny vs. Abby in a sombrero on a pole match, dubbed a “Mexican death match”. Nailed it mate. We get a clip of Magnum sexually assaulting Baby Doll, thus provoking Tully into a brawl. Crockett tells us the “I Quit” match is sanctioned! Fuck Bob Geigel!
Tully Blanchard vs. Denny Brown
Tully is fuming and he beats the tar out of Brown. Denny isn’t taking that lying down and comes battling back with right hands. Tully’s so mad he’s lost focus. Tully recovers by dragging Denny face first into the buckles. Slingshot Suplex finishes and Blanchard now has to refocus for Starrcade and his title match against Terry Allen.
Promo Time: Arn & Ole Anderson
They’re back! Ole is raging about Jim Crockett’s decision to book that “I Quit” match. Strange how he’s so bent out of fashion about it but the formation of the Four Horsemen would show the link between all these guys.
Nikita Koloff vs. Mac Jeffers
Jeffers would go on to be in the MOD Squad in WCW as “Basher”. Koloff makes mincemeat out of him and Koloff has a certain Goldberg-esque charm. The intensity and power is all there but at a strong pace too. He throws Jeffers around for a few minutes and finishes with the Russian Sickle.
Promo Time: The Russians
Darsow still can’t be bothered with any attempt at an accent. He complains of the Rock N’ Roll Express beating up “five foot ten Japs”.
The Russians vs. Ricky Reeves & Jerry Gammon
This is another Ivan Koloff miracle attempt as he’s got two jabronies who can barely do anything and Barry Darsow to carry. Darsow finishes with the Russian Sickle, if it looked ten times worse than Nikita’s.
Jimmy Valiant vs. Jimmy Black
Jimmy Black is Jimmy Del Ray under another Jimmy gimmick. It’s a shame he wasn’t around to join the Jimmyz team in Dragon Gate. Miss Atlanta Lively (Ronnie “Hands of Stone” Garvin) in drag strolls in to kiss Valiant. Garvin slaps Black so hard he’s unconscious and Valiant goes running after ‘her’.
Promo Time: Jim Cornette
He runs his mouth a bit until Jimmy Valiant runs him off. Valiant cuts an unhinged promo about how he wants Miss Atlanta Lively in his corner from now on. “I’m in love baby!” It’s a fucking dude man brother.
I don’t know how many of these I can sit through. I thought it would be fun to get some background on Starrcade but there are so many squash matches. This is the kind of thing the WWF improved when they started doing recaps of the feuds before the matches aired on PPV, so you didn’t have to watch all the TV shows leading up to the PPV. The Tully-Magnum stuff here is gold, but you could stick that in a video to air before the match and you wouldn’t have to sit through an 8 minute Pez Whatley match. In general, I’ve always found TVs a struggle. Mainly because I’ve always been more interested in how good the wrestling is, rather than the storyline behind it. That’s not to say I don’t dig a good storyline but in reviewing terms, I want the big shows, the big matches. I might just skip ahead to Starrcade.