JCP buying out the WWF’s 6:05 time slot on WTBS’s Saturday night lineup gave them the chance to make a true national push. Stars such as Ric Flair, Ole Anderson and Dusty Rhodes had been frequently seen when Georgia Championship Wrestling was still going strong. Then in recent weeks, Magnum T.A. and others had been appearing on Ole’s new Saturday morning “Championship Wrestling from Georgia” show in order to increase their exposure. Now Jim Crockett is bringing a host of fresh faces and cagey vets into the wrestling wars on the national scene. With that in mind, let’s take a look at how they debuted the “mothership”.
One week earlier….
APRIL 6, 1985
We open with a clip of Ole Anderson threatening Thunderbolt Patterson with violence after their recent split as a tag team.
David Crockett & Tony Schiavone run down today’s card.
Ivan & Nikita Koloff vs. George South & Greg Stone
The Russians systematically dismantle South, with Ivan using a combo of some technical moves and sheer rough house tactics. Nikita comes in looking jacked to the gills and he appropriately uses his muscle to toss South around. Stone tags in and fares no better. Nikita allows South to tag back in and quickly dispatches him with the Russian sickle. I probably won’t comment much on the matches’ watchability as they will be mostly squashes in nature anyway.
Ric Flair joins Schiavone and Crockett at the desk. Flair puts over his expensive robe and how his role as champion allows him to afford things the rest of the talent can only wish for. He apologizes to the Atlanta fans for having been away on other championship commitments lately and we’re out. That was a pretty paint by numbers promo to the degree that Flair’s face/heel alignment was ambiguous.
Jimmy Valiant vs. Mark Hill
Valiant dances and high fives the fans. He keeps dancing as he punches. Valiant screams for Paul Jones and his army as be slugs Hill to the mat. Valiant picks Hill up from several pin attempts to batter him further. The announcers explain Paul Jones’ action has driven Valiant to this heelish behavior. Valiant drops an elbow to win with ease. More dancing and clapping follow. Valiant looked ridiculous, but you couldn’t take your eyes off him!
Tully Blanchard vs. Sam Houston
Baby Doll is with Blanchard. Tully actually shakes Houston’s hand before the match, which quickly proves to be an disingenuous move as he pulls Houston’s hair to gain control. Dusty Rhodes, Blanchard’s number one enemy, comes down to scout and comment from the announcer’s desk. Houston gets some hope spots, but Blanchard doesn’t have much trouble taking back control from the rail thin babyface. Houston gets a bit more shine with a head scissors, but Blanchard wiggles out and slaps him. Houston gets mad (or “fires up” as Rhodes says) but he gets caught by Blanchard. Tully nails the snap suplex and finishes his opponent off.
Dusty formally introduces himself to America as one of it’s finest men. He calls out Blanchard, the Russians and Ric Flair as only Rhodes can. He’s the dealer in this card game, the rest are just playing along. He’d rather date Schiavone than Baby Doll and with that, he’s gone. Awesome as always from Big Dust.
Superstar Billy Graham (w/ Paul Jones) vs. Rocky King
Graham is not back to his former huge glory as he is still reinflating from his drug induced physical decline. Graham hacks away with kicks and forearms. Superstar nearly falls over while delivering a big boot. He scoops King up in a backbreaker and dumps him on the turnbuckle. Graham then locks in the full nelson for the easy win.
They play a Magnum T.A. music video (“Born to be Wild”) of him riding motorcycle, kicking butt in the ring and being hounded by women. This appears to be a Mid-South video as the clips are not from JCP.
Michael Hayes joins Schiavone at the desk. He mocks Flair’s nickname, talks about being naughty and how he’s going to take down the champ. Hayes’ promo was good, but not the excellence he’d deliver so often during this era. They actually do not state a date or place for the match, which is a mark against the segment. (Hayes is facing Flair at the upcoming Omni show.) Flair watches on bemused from the ring.
NWA World Champion Ric Flair vs. Gene Ligon
Flair grapples Ligon to the mat, proving he has the wrestling base required to carry the gold. Flair runs through his move set as he chops, knee drops, and out works his challenger. Ligon gets a brief bit of shine, but botches a backdrop spot by not bending over, then repeats the spot. Flair suplexes him to the mat and wraps his leg in a figure-four for the submission.
Jimmy Valiant comes to the desk. He kisses Tony and talks about how this channel reaches all the planets, each of which have fans of Valiant on them. He has six old ladies, but his favorite is his baseball bat and she’s going to meet Paul Jones soon. This was as good of a 30 second promo could possibly be. A fine mix of charisma and insanity.
The announcers talk about Thunderbolt Patterson and Ole Anderson being the reigning National champions, but now also enemies. We see a previously aired promo with the two men: Arn Anderson has influenced Ole to return to his dark side. Ole explains that being bad comes naturally more than trying to behave just for the fan’s support. Bolt appeals to the fans, Ole says “look me in the eyes, I suggest you avoid me because I may hurt you.” The chilling manner of his delivery of that line was AWESOME!
Manny Fernandez vs Arn Anderson
These two have had several physical encounters on Crockett TV, but we do not see any clips here which would catch the new audience up to the significance of this match. Ole joins the announcers, and they can’t keep straight the Anderson relation. Ole calls Arn his brother, and the announcers try and correct him that Arn is his nephew. They move along without resolution.
They trade fists early, with Fernandez gaining an early advantage by taking Anderson off his vertical base and cranking on his knee and leg for several minutes. Ole looks on in deep concentration. Manny switches up to a Indian death lock.
Anderson finally kicks Fernandez to the floor and posts him. Arn starts to break down Fernandez’s arm as Ole shouts instructions. Arn works the arm for several minutes, as Ole proudly boasts that this reminds him of how he and Gene Anderson used to tear people up.
Manny railles, which draws Ole closer to the ring. Manny talks smack and gets knocked to the floor. Ole and Arn double up on Fernandez until Thunderbolt Patterson comes down and confronts Ole. Arn jumps him and Ole joins him in beating down Patterson. Manny tries to save Bolt from having his leg broken from Arn launching on it from the top rope, but both faces end up lying motionless on the mat as a parade of jobbers push the Andersons away.
The Koloffs cut a promo. Ivan claims 50 teams are lined up to take their titles, but he struggles to name three. (Jimmy Valiant and Pez Whately make the cut). Nikita warns Flair he’s in his sights through his Russian-American grunts.
Flair comes out for a second promo. He is joined by three women. He’s mega rich and has sex with every woman of his choosing. Flair tells a heckler to pay attention or he’ll never bang her. Limos, women, money, wrestling… WOOOOOOOO!
NWA US Champion Magnum T.A. vs. Paul Barnett
T.A. nails the belly to belly suplex in seconds for the win, as was common for T.A.’s matches at the time. If they positioned this after the lengthy Anderson/Fernandez match for maximum effect, I give them extra credit for booking.
We get a replay of Blanchard’s search for his “Perfect 10” woman who can serve him at ringside and in the bedroom. The cinematography of this vignette is off the charts good for a wrestling show. Blanchard drinks Scotch while a woman in a gown tries to seduce him over dinner. Top notch job on that piece!
The Barbarian (w/ Paul Jones) vs. Joshua Stroud
The Barbarian is pretty green here. Stroud gets pounded with forearms, some of which are not really sold all that well. Some of the Barbarian’s strikes are not particularly crisp or realistic looking, but he’s huge and scary. A diving headbutt beats Stroud in short order.
Rhodes is back out for another promo. Rhodes wants to find him some cowgirls to bring on TV instead of the dolled up ladies Flair produced. He also calls out Ole for turning heel again, and reminds Anderson of their blood fued that had turned into a friendship once again.
Blanchard comes out to remind Rhodes that he’s the man Dusty needs to concern himself with, not Flair, Anderson or whoever. Blanchard needs the TV title back in order to keep he and Baby Doll in limos and lavish living.
Buddy Landell (w/ J.J. Dillon) vs. David Dillinger
Landell primps his hair and struts, working his Flair gimmick. Landell breaks down Dillinger and wins me over by asking Dillion “What’s that guy’s name who is imitating me? Flair or something?” Landell spends most of the match working the arm, so of course he wins with a figure-four. Logic.
JJ Dillon explains he’s on a global search for new talent. His current stable is branching out across the world and dominating.
Black Bart (w/ JJ Dillon) vs. Ron Rossi
Black Bart kicks and forearms Rossi to the mat. He spends the next several minutes hacking at Rossi, while doing a constant stream of screaming with each blow. He finally elbows him and ends things.
Ole and Arn Anderson visit the announce booth. Arn celebrates the revival of the Anderson dynasty. Patterson was only hurt because he failed to heed Ole’s warning to stay out of his business. When he got involved, he had to be taught a lesson.
They air a Jimmy Valiant music video (“Life’s been good”) of Valiant being wacky at the beach with his fans. He also looks at a boat and street signs. This aired on Pro Wrestling USA and probably other places before this.
We close with a clip from after Rhodes won the TV title. Rhodes is drinking whiskey by a limo. He is rich and soon he’ll be World champion.
Final thoughts: I’m shocked, shocked I say that booker Dusty Rhodes gave himself more segments than anyone else. Much of this show was great. The promos are hard to beat, the music videos were full of cheesy goodness and we saw pretty much all the top talents, with explanations of most of the big angles. Jim Crockett did not feel compelled to even acknowledge the new show or the fact that he was replacing the WWF’s somewhat reviled product.