Pacific Northwest Wrestling: Owen Family Super Extravaganza (9.24.85)
September 24, 1985
We’re in Portland, Oregon at the Memorial Coliseum. 8000 fans in attendance for this one. In 1985 they had their first stab at a ‘supercard’, designed to showcase the area but also to celebrate 60 years of the Owen Family promoting in Portland. That was back in May, featuring both Roddy Piper and Buddy Rose, who both wrestled on WrestleMania right beforehand. It was quite the success.
I’ve never seen a show from Portland. Considering the territory existed from 1925 to its eventual demise in 1997 that’s a lot of content I’ve not seen. Don Owen runs Portland. He took over from his father Herb Owen in 1942. The territory is in decline here, with the other promoters pushing out nationally and Owen simply not having the reach or star power or finances to follow suit. The territory was hot in the early 80s with Roddy Piper, Buddy Rose and Rick Martel ruling the roost. Almost everyone on this show, at the top end, is from somewhere else. It’s part of the whole NWA/AWA collaboration where they tried to fend off the WWF. Let’s see how Portland is in 1985.
Sidenote: video quality isn’t great on this show. It is watchable but I can’t get screenshots. So, no photographic accompaniment for your pleasure today. Apologies for that.
Debbie Combs vs. Liz Chase
JIP, or joined in progress for anyone not familiar with old tape trading days lingo. Back in the day, you’d get tapes where matches were joined in progress all the time. Combs is fairly famous. She’d work her way into WWF a few years after this. Chase, I’m not familiar with. She worked for WWF in the early 80s and retired at the end of 1985. Chase hits a powerbomb immediately, which commentary doesn’t understand the physics of. We get a time limit draw here with maybe two minutes of it shown.
Ricky Vaughn vs. “Moondog” Ed Moretti
Vaughn is the PNW champion and has made a huge splash in his rookie year. Moretti is the least ‘Moondog” looking of the Moondogs. I thought it was a sloppy version of Jim Neidhart at first glance. Commentary here is fascinating. They’re both heel and hate the fans and the officials. Seeing as Vaughn is green, they keep it basic here. Vaughn has a good look and a decent personality. His career ended up tainted by becoming “Lance Von Erich”, but he looks capable for a rookie. He does have issues. He telegraphs counters and at least one of his dropkicks is off target. He also doesn’t seem too interested in taking bumps. He finishes Moretti with a powerslam after a leapfrog. Decent effort from Vaughn but his inexperience was there for all to see.
The Russians (Ivan Koloff & Krusher Kruschev) vs. Bobby Jaggers & Steve Pardee
Krusher is Barry Darsow, aka Smash, aka Repo Man. He’s, perhaps predictably, not Russian at all. Jaggers is a ten year veteran and has moved here for improved card position over other NWA territories. Pardee is a jobber. The crowd get into a pro-USA vitriol. From an in-ring perspective, can Ivan Koloff carry his tag team partner and two regional yokels? My respect for Ivan has risen significantly during this project. The crowd get very into this. The jingoism is real. They pelt the ring with garbage throughout. Pardee’s hot tag is amazing. He can’t hit the moves to keep that pop going but it’s heated! Pardee gets blindsided by Krusher though and the Russians win. Just from a heat perspective, this was fantastic but the work wasn’t. Ivan was, once again, the MVP by some distance. The fight continues after the bell and the crowd goes nuts! It’s astonishing that anyone can get that mad about Barry Darsow in a red singlet but here we are.
NWA Pacific Northwest Tag Team Championship
Mike Miller & Karl Steiner vs. S & S Express (Steve Simpson & Joe Savoldi)
Miller & Steiner come out to “Wild Boys” by Duran Duran to a bizarre amount of heat. I love this crowd. Commentary says the tag belts are held up and nobody has them here, so I’ll go with that. S&S are faces and both are green and very over with the crowd. All these guys are arguably best known for their work in Portland, so I’m excited to see how they do. Steiner looks like Pat Roach in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Miller looks like he’s really into the Cult. S&S are fresh faced and do a lot of ‘count along’ stuff with the crowd. The heat segment on Simpson is a bit lethargic, which is unfortunate, because the match was good up to that point. The hot tag leads to the Hart Attack and Savoldi hits a running splash for the win and the belts. This was going great until the heat segment killed it. The crowd wanted to cheer here after booing all the last match and the heat segment was not inspired enough to change that. Good match though. **¾
NWA World Heavyweight Championship
Ric Flair (c) vs. Magnum TA
This is my first-time seeing Magnum TA (on this project), named after the TV show Magnum and his shoot name; Terry Allen. Magnum was being looked at for the NWA title down the line. It never happened because he got into a horrific car crash in 1986, which ended his career. This is an odd match up for Flair as Magnum is a similar size to him and isn’t a power wrestler. Almost every Flair match is against bigger or stronger guys. This is a long match, so the first ten minutes is a lot of nothing. They get the 10-minute call and suddenly TA is awake! They do a spot where Flair gets thrown out of the ring and takes ages to get back in. Then he tosses TA out and he rolls right back in! Huge pop. Flair’s offence is intriguing here because he wears Magnum down part at a time. He works the ribs a bit, then switches to the arm.
It’s Magnum who goes after the leg, taking advantage of Flair missing a kneedrop. That’s pure Flair, in reverse. Flair himself goes into a different mode here, one I’ve not seen much of so far but will see lots of in the future. Pushing the ref, begging off. The Flair Match would start to look a lot like that but he hadn’t done much chickenshit stuff before now. This is around when he broke Dusty’s leg and started up the Four Horsemen and his style naturally evolved around that. I see a few trademark Flair finishes from around this time. Magnum almost gets it with a backslide (Kerry Von Erich). Flair then pins with his feet on the ropes but gets caught. Magnum then switches to the sleeper (Wahoo). For someone who has watched all these Flair title matches in short order, they have loads of call backs, even though they’re different matches. Magnum has done his research.
A sweaty Magnum TA looks a lot like Rudi Voller. They pull out great late drama with Flair finally getting to the leg and Magnum fighting him off and trying to get flash pins. They bump the ref and Magnum gets the visual pin with the belly to belly. That was Magnum’s chance. Damn you, Sandy Barr! Magnum gets one last backslide, but Flair kicks out and the time limit expires. Hoo, boy, this was great. If they’d put anything into that first ten minutes this would be a big old rating. As it stands, I’m going ****.
AWA Tag Team Championship
The Road Warriors (c) vs. Sgt Slaughter & Billy Jack Haynes
The Roadies coming out to Black Sabbath was quite the sight in 1985. Sarge is an all-American hero, so he seems to be the most over guy out here, but Haynes is very over in Portland generally. He would keep coming back to Portland over the years until he retired. Sarge offers himself up for the heat segment, which is long and torturous. It seems bizarre to look back on the Road Warriors as heels. It didn’t really work at all. That’s all Verne Gagne saw them as though. The Roadies work over Haynes too so Sarge runs in with a chair, sick of this nonsense, and that’s a DQ. Not really how you’d want your main event to go down. There’s slight compensation as Animal hurls the commentary table into the ring. You can see all the wires dangling off it. That’s the end of tonight’s commentary!
Obviously, Flair vs. Magnum is way above everything else on this show. That’s not to say the rest of it is a disaster. It’s a heated affair. Almost every match was over with the crowd. I can’t ask for much more in 1985.