The Furious Flashbacks – NWA Starrcade ’84
Posted by Arnold Furious on 12.31.2007
The Million Dollar Challenge
The Furious Flashbacks – NWA Starrcade ’84
The Million Dollar Challenge
We’re in Greensboro, North Carolina. Hosts are Bob Caudle & Gordon Solie.
We open with clips from Flair-Race in the main event of Starrcade ’83 showing the scope of this show.
The concept of this show is that whoever wins the main event between Ric Flair & Dusty Rhodes takes home a million dollars. As well as the NWA title, which Flair currently holds. Crowd is super-hot for this one because they know how the previous year’s Starrcade played out.
Junior Heavyweight title – Mike Davis (c) v Denny Brown
Ref is Earl Hebner. Davis did his best work in the Rock n Roll RPM’s. They worked heel all over the South having success in Continental and World Class. Brown is basically a jobber. He was certainly used extensively as enhancement talent for Jim Crockett during his previous 4 years in the company. Davis predictably dominates the early going and slams Brown repeatedly to cause his back damage. Brown is still able to use his “high-flying”, which consists entirely of leapfrogs and dropkicks. Davis keeps on the back though and hits a bridging back suplex but PINS HIMSELF as Brown gets a shoulder up. In a comedy spot the ring announcer calls Davis the winner as do both commentators. Solie tries to cover for him bumbling through a horrible segment before Caudle decides to go with it. ¼*. Terrible from the wrestling to the commentary to the organisation or lack thereof. The replay pauses before the kickout thus rendering that useless as well. Oh dear.
BACKSTAGE Young Tony Schiavone is doing the locker room scoops. He’s with Ric Flair. Tony flubs his lack of interview and hands it back over to the ring announcer. Oh boy.
Mr Ito v Brian Adias
Adias’ name is spelt differently everywhere I see it. It’s spelt Adidis on the tape and you’d think it should be spelt Adidas as that’s how it’s pronounced. But apart from on this show he wrestled as Brian Adias, which is the spelling I’m using. He’s from World Class and is your up and coming prospect here. Ito is your stereotypical Japanese import. I don’t even know who it is although he looks like Great Kabuki minus the makeup. Solie is still harping on about the previous match even though he was WRONG. He goes on to further sully his good name by calling Ito “sneaky”. Can’t let Pearl Harbor go eh Gordon? Adias completely misses a chop but makes amends with an airplane spin for the win. ¼*. Well that was certainly brief.
NWA Florida title – Jesse Barr (c) v Mike Graham
You should know Barr from his WWF run as Jimmy Jack Funk. He’s a heel and just beat Scott McGhee for the title. Graham is the son of Florida promoter Eddie Graham. He never really got that big promoter’s son push and was far more grounded than other second generation guys. The wrestling here is a big improvement over the previous two matches. Barr’s controlling work on an armbar is the basis for the match. Barr keeps grabbing the hair to solidify his heel status. Graham has one of those great 80’s porn star moustaches. He’s also quicker than his heel opponent and he trips him up into a leglock. He considers a Figure Four but Barr rolls away from it. Graham starts to take over the match showing perhaps superior stamina or conditioning. Graham goes after the Figure Four again but this time Barr squirms out under the bottom rope. Why is he using Flair’s finish on a show headlined by Flair? Isn’t that breaking some kind of wrestling code? Thou shalt not use the main eventer’s finishers in your undercard bout! Barr grabs the hair to get back in charge with a headlock. This feeling out process continues. The headlock goes on for so long it completely kills the crowd. Urge to fast-forward growing…growing…growing. Eventually Graham shinbreakers his way out into the Figure Four. Barr uses the ropes to escape this third attempt. Graham changes gears on him with a sunset flip for 2. Ref is bumped. Graham has the roll up for the win but the ref is briefly down. Barr dodges that bullets. They do a reversal spot where Barr pulls the tights but Graham kicks out so Barr uses the ropes for the Flair pin and that gets the job done. **. Started strong, went very boring in the middle and finally picked up after the lengthy headlock spot. The psychology was pretty good though.
CLIPS – Tully kicking the life out of Ricky Steamboat. Why does David Crockett sound so Australian? That’s just weird.
The Assassin/Buzz Tyler v The Zambuie Express w/Paul Jones
Tyler comes out to Footloose thus marking our first moment of stardom on this show. For some reason this is an elimination match announced by the jackass as “one fall”. Sure it is. Assassin is a babyface so presumably he turned on his heel manager. Tyler arrived to partner him in the war with Paul Jones wrestlers. Zambuie Express are Akeem & Muhammed. Akeem is Leroy Brown. The other guy is Ray Candy who used to team with Abby in All Japan. This is predictably awful because Jody Hamilton sucks and this is essentially all about him. The heat is on Buzz thankfully, which means I don’t have to sit through Jody selling. He really is terrible. Just watching him slug it out with Leroy Brown is embarrassing. Candy & Tyler brawl out to the floor and get counted out. Assassin just falls on Akeem for the pin. DUD. Utter shit. Once again the announcers completely miss the double count out making the company look dumb. Solie looks unimpressed when they cut to him. Tell me the finishes for fuck’s sake…
BACKSTAGE Tony gets a word with a tired looking Dusty Rhodes. He says something about how Flair’s possessions won’t count for anything tonight. He warns special referee Joe Frazier to keep his nose out of his bidniz.
And at this point I get called into work for 7 hours on my day off. Woot.
Black Bart w/JJ Dillon v Manny Fernandez
Manny’s entrance music is “Beat It” by Michael Jackson, which is SO gay it almost defies reason. He’s teaming with Dusty, and champs with him, so he’s over by proxy. He went to AWA later then Puerto Rico so you may not have seen him at all. Bart is a journeyman wrestler called Rick Harris. He’s just settled on the gimmick and it’s the one he’s remembered for. This is for the “Brass Knucks” title but it doesn’t specify which one. Bart is the holder. That means no DQ. I’d guess at the Mid-Atlantic version although Bart held several others. This is all punching as you’d expect in a “brass knucks” title match. Fernandez gets busted open thanks to the repeated punches and Bart bites at the wound like a sicko. Heh, I just noticed Manny has this fruity little blond mullet. Maybe “Beat It” was appropriate. They bail so Bart can blade under the safety of the ring apron. Man, I got cynical as a smark. And sarcastic. And rude. Manny is selling everything like death after 10 minutes. Bart grabs a rope off JJ but Manny rolls him up for the win and the title belt. Cheeky! **. A hearty brawl but it seemed rather rushed. Manny was selling like we’d been through 20 minutes near the end.
As we cut to Solie & Caudle it has to be noted this is one of the most shambolic presentations I’ve seen in a long time. No wonder Vince took over with his slick production values. We get clips from Flair-Race again.
BACKSTAGE Tony has Rick Steamboat. Lights go out. D’oh. Tony gives up on the interview and we go back to Solie who points out we have “technical difficulties”. This whole fuckin’ show has technical difficulties. Good job Solie is out there. Caudle is just shuffling papers trying to find where the ‘total fuck up’ is in the running order. We get back to Steamboat who points out Starrcade is hyped all year long. He runs through what happened over the last year and how he’s got issues with 4 guys but especially Tully Blanchard who tried to injure him. Steamboat carries on making some important points and calling Tully “yella”. Oh, ho, ho. It’s on now Steamer! Steamboat said a lot but there was no charisma to it. Even though he was reeling off good points it was still boring. I just completely tuned out until I heard “yella” and then I was right back. Throwing insults is a winner. We take some time chatting until Tony is ready to talk to Tully & JJ. Tony asks the tough stupid questions like “were you trying to injure Ricky Steamboat?” JJ says Steamboat is using it as an excuse because Tully is the better wrestler. Tully says he’s on a “path of destiny”. And that would be why you have a manager sir.
Loser Leaves Town/Tuxedo match – Paul Jones w/Zambuie Express member v Jimmy Valiant w/The Assassin
Loser leaves town – there’s a stip you don’t see anymore. Or tuxedo matches for that matter because they suck. Valiant is huge over for his crazy charismatic personality. He gives the ring announcer a kiss. Jones’ corner guy is introduced as I’ve typed it. I can’t remember which one he is. This is part of the Assassin’s campaign against Paul Jones and Valiant’s own campaign. Amazing to think Valiant had been wrestling for 20 years even by this point. This is all comedy and not very good stuff. Jones gets his tie tied to the top rope. Valiant takes his own jacket off to allow himself more arm swinging room. Jones gets his jacket torn up. Jones loses most of his shirt and his trousers. Tuxedo matches are so gay. He still has the shirt on so Valiant rips that off and last I checked that was enough to win a Tuxedo match. It carries on regardless. Valiant takes a swift beating but hulks up and applies the sleeper. Jones blades for NO REASON WHATSOEVER and bleeds all over Valiant’s shirt doing damage that must run into all of $8. The seconds pile in for a brawl and the ref gets knocked out. This allows JJ Dillon to run in and punk Valiant out. Jones flops over him for the win. ½*. That wasn’t terrible but it’s ultimately pointless as Charlie Brown “from outta town” will shortly return.
BACKSTAGE Tony has Flair again. I’m really not enjoying these interview segments. Flair shills the purse for tonight as the biggest ever. Anywhere. Flair calls himself the “number one stud”. Tony says Flair is ready. Solie says he’s always ready. He was born ready!
Mid-Atlantic title – Ron Bass (c) w/JJ Dillon v Dick Slater
Slater is one of wrestling’s tragic stories. He ended up broken down with horrendous back injuries and had to be medicated with morphine and oxycontin. He was under so much medication he stabbed his girlfriend without knowing about it and woke up in hospital. Bass was teaming with Black Bart as the Long Riders at the time so he’s the heel. His career went up after this. He had a stint in the WWF before retiring just after the 80’s boom in 1991. Slater plays mind games like hiding in the corner and beckoning Bass in before putting a beating on him. Hey, I can hear them talking. “Shoot me off” sayeth Slater who gets thrown into the ropes as Bass escapes a headlock. This would be the earliest I’ve ever heard wrestlers talking in the ring. That camerawork is superb. Kudos the Crocketts. Slater goes to stamp on Bass and the ref grabs his leg to stop it. That seems…harsh. Bass is then able to beat the crap out of Slater. Bass pounds away with illegal punches and the ref doesn’t block those. Consistency. That’s all people want from referees. Bass takes advantage with a bulldog. Slater comes back with a stomp to the face, which the ref does nothing about. Geez. Why does he even bother getting in the ring? JJ gives Slater a beating on the floor allowing Bass to control again. Slater punches Bass back into the corner. The ref complains so Slater throws him off. JJ runs in and attacks. Slater punches him out of the ring and slams Bass. It could well be over but the ref has disqualified Slater for being a jerk. *1/2. That was a waste of time. The referee was a joke there. The booking was stupid.
POST MATCH Slater lays out Bass and JJ to vent his frustration.
We get another intermission where the Star Spangled Banner plays. Isn’t this 7 matches late? As if that isn’t enough Neil Diamond’s “America” plays as well. Yeah, yeah, it’s America. I get it.
Ivan/Nikita Koloff v Ole Anderson/Keith Larson w/Don Kernodle
Kernodle trained Ivan’s “nephew” Nikita when he arrived in America but they then turned on him starting this lengthy feud and leaving Don on crutches here. Keith Larson is Kernodle’s brother. I don’t know which one changed their name for wrestling purposes but I would guess at Don. The Russians are NOT popular as we’re still deep in Cold War era. The Doomsday Clock is extremely close to midnight thanks to Ronald Reagan’s politics so the heat is seriously legit. Larson is clearly pissed off with Ivan for the treatment his brother has received and he wails on him. Larson isn’t too bright. He doesn’t understand what Ole wants when Ole puts his foot on top rope. It’s like this kid I saw during an SJK v Jimmy Jacobs match. “Give me your foot, kid” says SJK. The kid stares blankly at him. “Put your foot up”. Nothing. SJK grabs the kid’s foot and rams it into Jimmy’s forehead. Way to go kid. You’ll go far. Larson is that kid turned pro, metaphorically speaking. Nikita comes in but he fares badly as well. As I type that Solie says the same thing. Ivan comes back in and gets another beasting. It’s the whole Anderson tag teaming thing. Anderson’s can team with anyone and be successful. Look at this jobber he’s teaming with! All Larson has done is work arm ringers. The crowd don’t care because you can only work at the arm for so long before everyone gets bored. Even Ivan gets bored, which is saying something. He inserts a spot where Larson slams him off the top. Obviously Larson goes right back to the arm. Of course that’s also Anderson family wrestling. But there’s nothing fun like hammerlock slams or even hammerlocks. He’s just working that same armbar over and over. Caudle flat out LIES telling me Nikita hasn’t been in yet. As he says that Nikita gets a tag, again as he WAS in earlier. Ole rakes him in the eyes but that just pisses Nikita off. If you’re struggling to mentally imagine Nikita Koloff; think Goldberg. Only if he had his big run as a heel. He just dominates Ole and bearhugs him. If this were a one on one contest Ole wouldn’t stand a chance. This is now officially a BORE-HUG. When Ole gets out he gets stuck in a heat segment. Back to the BORE-HUG. Ole gets out again and this time hot tags Larson. Now we’re stuck with Larson v Nikita, which is a recipe for horror. Ivan sensibly takes his place in short order. Larson misses a dropkick leading to heat on Larson. Ivan is the only heel keeping it interesting and showing bags of effort to get Larson over. Nikita bails to lay out Don Kernodle. Ole gets pissed off about that and the brawling is going insane. In the midst of this Ivan ends up on top of Larson for the pin. **3/4. Good formula stuff despite 2 of the 4 wrestlers being very green.
POST MATCH The Koloff’s look to kill Larson to teach him a lesson. Kernodle makes the save and wails on the Russians with his crutch, which breaks. Btw babyface Ole is something I just can’t get used to at all. Solie lies through his teeth calling this “the finest action in ages”. I’m seriously losing respect for his abilities based on this show. That’s how bad it is.
NWA TV title – Tully Blanchard (c) v Ricky Steamboat
Caudle calls the TV title “one of the most prestigious in the world” and for once that isn’t a fib. During the 80’s the TV title was highly respected because it was frequently defended. Of course the title was a joke by the time WCW batted it around in the late 90’s so its rep isn’t too strong these days. It’s no coincidence that the WWE doesn’t have a TV title. After all most belts are frequently defended nowadays. I’ve done this match before. It’s the only one that made it onto the best of Starrcade tape release. Here’s the action. Steamboat has a rib injury coming in so Tully goes right after that but the Steamer fights him off with a flurry of chops. Tully bails but Steamboat suplexes him back and drops a knee for 2. Tully goes for the ribs again but gets a knee to the face for his troubles. Tully is persistent though and throws rights into the ribcage. Backbreaker and elbow drops to the ribs. Steamboat is selling these shots like death. Steamboat cuts him off with some more CHOPS! He drops some knees for 2. Tully goes right back to the ribs and hits a back suplex for 2. Tully decides to back off because Steamboat looks pissed off. Steamboat just gets angrier and hits a powerslam for 2. Steamboat brings the fast offence and hits some CHOPS! Those get 2. Steamboat isn't done though and he CHOPS the shit out of Tully and hits a neckbreaker for 2. Rope assisted suplex gets 2. Dropkick gets 2. One of those strikes in there opened up Tully who's now bleeding from the forehead. Tully bails for some knucks, Steamboat ducks them but gets caught in the face on a back suplex. Tully takes him over with a crossbody for 2. To the ropes and Tully gets pushed off allowing Steamboat to splash him for 2. Sunset flip but Tully pulls out the knucks again to punch Steamboat in the face for the 3 count. ****. Great match. So much effort from Steamboat. It's really quite incredible to look back into the mid 80's and see him produce such lively performances when there were plenty around him who weren't. His selling was totally killer at the finish. Shame the refereeing was so convoluted. “I’m not looking at your hands. Bash him in the head….NOW”. C’mon man. I realise you’re ‘checking the shoulders’ even though there’s no pin but I can only suspend my disbelief for so much.
NWA US title – Wahoo McDaniel (c) v “Superstar” Billy Graham
Graham is a former WWF champion having bested Bruno Sammartino in 1977. The heel/face alignments are really blurry here and the crowd reaction reflects that. Wahoo’s attitude is in the process of changing. Graham isn’t clearly one way or the other but the crowd are more in favour of him. Wahoo eye rakes him to make it a little clearer although the crowd are still into him because of all his years of babyface hard work. Graham slaps on the full nelson but can’t get his fingers together. Caudle shows the lack of PC during the early 80’s by referring to Wahoo as “the injun”. Graham looks pretty deteriorated and mostly throws lame elbows. Wahoo chops at him a bit. Eventually Graham jobs to a chop. A chop. Oh boy. DUD. You know when I was talking about lazy wrestlers producing performances devoid of effort? The production crew fuck up the replay causing Solie to point out how these things will happen on live TV. Not if you’re organised. Not on every fucking segment. The replays show how completely lame that finish was. And why is a guy on his way heel winning against a guy on his way face CLEAN with a CHOP? Who booked that shit?
As if this show wasn’t bad enough we get ANOTHER intermission so the folks can get over that last thrilling bout and we get the same clip of Flair-Race that they have cued up for any holes in the show. Solie throws to Tony with another “rings wre, er, wrestling interview”. Thanks, Gordon. I really wish I hadn’t watched this show. Poor Gordon Solie. He has Joe Frazier who comes across as “punchy”. The “rules are raised” he says. “I don’t want nuttin to go wrang” sayeth Joe. Is he drunk? Or is just all the punches he’s taken over the years? They have a NASCAR driver there too but I’m more worried about how Joe said he “didn’t want to see anyone hurt”. You know where this shit is going. Caudle throws to footage that doesn’t exist. “Errrrrrr, ok” – Solie. Who was in charge of this clusterfuck? The whole show is just screaming “hey, we’re fucking bush league amateurs that don’t know what we’re doing!” They throw to the ring and the camera stays on them. Solie kills time. “This is for the whole thing. All the marbles. Biggest purse of all time” while “Purple Rain” by Prince plays for NO REASON in the background. It’s like someone sat down and went “hey, you know what’d be REALLY dumb? We just play a piece of music for no reason and don’t tell our announcers shit”. This show is actually making WCW’s shows from near the end look competent. Purple Rain kicks back in and Dusty is coming out to it. Yeah, nothing says butch Texan son of a plumber workin’ man like a song by a sex obsessed midget about lovers apologising to each other.
NWA title – Ric Flair (c) v Dusty Rhodes
The next music cue gets botched. It’s like they’re going for some sort of record. Dusty gets booed. Heh. Crowd chants “we want Flair”. That’d become a popular chant over the years. For some bizarre reason “Thus Spake Zathura” plays in full then Ric comes out to a shitty country song. Kyle Petty was the NASCAR driver. Joe Frazier is the referee in the ring. Dusty gets booed again during the introductions. This is Flair Country. “Dusty is carrying a little weight” – Solie with the understatement of the year. Dusty grabs a headlock, which is loose as shit and looks worse. Flair breaks out the chops to wake the crowd back up. Dusty with the flip, flop and fly. Flair bumps around like crazy to put over Dusty’s stuff but makes a point of avoiding the elbow drop. Joe’s cadence is pretty swift on the counts btw. Damn boxers, taking the tension out of it. Flair misses a kneedrop and Dusty hooks up the Figure Four himself. Flair escapes but Dusty stays on the leg. Flair wrestles his way back on top and starts punching Dusty in the head. This is almost MMA style. Dusty just loses the plot and goes to a top wristlock thus exerting more pressure on Flair’s injured leg. Bugger. Flair is literally wrestling himself here charging into a slam while Dusty just stands there getting fatter. Dusty fires away with his contrived looking strikes in the corner making good and sure to stomp his foot on the canvas as hard as he can. Flair takes his corner bump and I’m getting really annoyed here, genuinely, at how lazy Dusty is and how hard working Flair is my comparison. Smokin’ Joe further irritates the fans by slowing his cadence down and he’s actually booed. Flair heads up top but we know where that always goes. Flair with a sleeper and the commentators worryingly say “Ric Flair” in stereo then stop. That was just creepy. Flair gets thrown outside and that leads to a brawl on the floor. Dusty gets run into the ring post and cuts open his big fat forehead in another finely contrived piece of work. Frazier is concerned about the cut because that’s what boxers do. Dusty wants to continue so Flair knees him in the face then goes to town on the cut with punches. Dusty fires back with elbows and this is finally getting good. Flair wails on that cut and Frazier stops it again to check to the cut. Who booked this shit? Flair wails on the cut some more and in comes Joe a third time and this time he stops the match. BOOOOOO! *1/2. Terrible match and just as it was getting going in steps Captain Retard aka the booker. Not sure who that was at the time. Dusty didn’t take over until the next year. Probably because of shit like this.
BACKSTAGE Flair says he doesn’t care about the finish because all he wanted was to walk out with the title and the cheque and he has both. Tony gets time with Dusty as well who bitches out Joe Frazier claiming wrestlers are manlier than boxers. He also adds that he’ll be hunting Frazier and wants another shot at Flair. Don’t worry Dusty. Your day will come.
The 411: While Tully-Steamboat delivered and the Koloff’s tag match was surprisingly good that’s about all there is to see here. The main event is a huge disappointment. The crowd clearly went home pissed off at not getting a finish at Starrcade. Already ripping the fans off and it’s only the second year of the show! Way to kill all that good will from Starrcade ’83. Thanks to WCW’s horrific booking there are at least three Starrcade’s that are worse (I’m thinking ’92, ’94 and ’97) but this was an early failure in the franchise’s existence. Booking a finish in your main event would be a start. Booking less crap on the undercard would also be an improvement. Did we really need all those matches? Mr Ito v Brian Adias? Was anyone interested? Thumbs down.