In this blog I will be reviewing old school PPVs on the WWE Network. My aim is to gear these reviews towards people who may not be familiar with events from before their time. I am starting with content from before I started watching wrestling and giving my raw opinions based on how the content has held up over time. If you are looking to watch old content on the network but aren’t familiar with the product then I want these reviews to be for you. I will be covering all of the NWA/WCW and WWF/WWE content, so I will have quite a bit of content to cover. I will try to alternate each week between WCW and WWF. The first few reviews will be the early Starrcades, but I will switch to the WWF when the events come up chronologically. Thank you and enjoy!
(All screen captures are property of World Wrestling Entertainment)
November 24, 1983 (Thanksgiving)
Greensboro, North Carolina
We start with a very cold opening. There is no video package. There is no rundown of the card. We open on a shot of the teams already in the ring. I don’t know if something was edited out of the broadcast for the network or if this is how the show originally opened, but it seems odd.
The Assassins /w Paul Jones vs. Bugsy McGraw & Rufus R. Jones
Tom Miller introduces the teams, as Bugsy McGraw mugs for the camera. He mimes using binoculars to look at the cameraman. The first thing that I notice is that Bugsy looks a lot like my dad except with a thicker beard. We then get a shot of The Assassins, #1 and #2. They are wearing matching black unitards and matching masks which makes them look like they are preparing for the Lucha Ballet. They are with their manager, Paul Jones, whom I will assume is no relation to Rufus. Paul is wearing a very loud white tuxedo. The commentators talk about the teams and Gordon Solie forgets Bugsy’s name until Bob Caudle reminds him. It might also be possible that Gordon was distracted by Bugsy’s mannerisms. He behaves much like Curly from the Three Stooges.
This is very much a comedy match. The moves that are performed are very basic. It appears at one point that the two men are very fond of the arm wringer, as they continually return to it. The basic moves and arm wringer spots are punctuated by some of the worst looking punches I’ve seen. At one point, Bugsy begins swinging his arms around like a windmill. Bugsy and Rufus also mix in a lot of dancing and I do mean a lot. Rufus, at one point busts out the Chicken Dance and Bugsy does a twirl that Solie calls a “Whirling Dervish”. Bugsy attempts to remove #1’s mask a couple of times early in the match, but he is unsuccessful. Oddly enough, 90% of the offense in this match is from Bugsy and Rufus. The Assassins attempt some offense, but they are thwarted by Rufus’ incredibly hard head. They finally gain an advantage by using a foreign object to rake Rufus’ eyes and clawing at his face. Rufus sells their offense like he’s receiving small electrical shocks. Rufus eventually hulks up and makes a tag to Bugsy, who comes in and goes full-on Curly Joe on #2. The problem is #1 is actually the legal man and he sneaks in to roll up Bugsy for a 3 count.
This was not good. The crowd seemed to love all the wacky antics, but it quickly wore thin with me. Gordon Solie called the ending a “disappointing situation”, but I think he might have been talking about the match as a whole. It is much like when Jim Ross calls a match “bowling shoe ugly”.
Winners: The Assassins
After the match we go to the commentators in the booth. Bob Caudle and Gordon Solie are standing in front of a nice backdrop that says “Starrcade ‘83” on it as well as “A Flare for the Gold”. I’m a little confused as to why they didn’t spell it “Flair” instead. Solie is wearing a brown velvet looking suit, while Caudle is wearing a more normal looking gray. The two men welcome us to Starrcade. I guess the cold opening was on purpose. They briefly talk about the main event between Flair and Race and say that Dusty Rhodes will challenge the winner. Caudle then throws it to a very young looking Tony Schiavone. (During the first match, Solie hilariously mispronounced Tony’s last name as “Shiff-oney”, but Caudle knows how to pronounce it correctly.)
Tony is standing in the dressing room with Flair and Piper sitting on a couch behind him. He tells us that he will be conducting interviews throughout the night in what he calls a “unique view”. Were backstage interviews not that common at this time? While he is speaking, various wrestlers wander by in the background. Charlie Brown wanders through the shot and waves at someone. Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood stop by to say hello to Piper and Flair. Then, at one point Piper and Flair stand up and Roddy appears to be having a discussion about the pipes overhead.
Kevin Sullivan & Mark Lewin w/ Gary Hart vs. Scott McGhee & Johnny Weaver
We go to the ring, where our competitors for the next match are already present. We get a shot of a young…um…younger looking Kevin Sullivan and his mountain of a partner, Mark Lewin. Are they still doing the Satanic cult gimmick that they did in Florida? It’s never expressly stated although Solie makes a passing remark about it later. The crowd heckles Lewin so he turns and starts doing what looks like Matt Hardy’s delete hand gesture. During the introductions, Lewin is quite twitchy, which I guess is supposed to get over how he is crazy. In a funny moment Caudle accidentally calls manager Gary Hart by the name “Kevin Hart”. Wait a second. How does Bob Caudle know about Kevin Hart in 1983? Is he a time traveler!?
The match starts with Sullivan and McGhee doing a little criss-cross action, which I’m sure the OSW Review guys would love. McGhee uses his quickness to throw off Sullivan, who tags out to Lewin. Even Lewin has trouble hitting Scott with chops as he is too quick. Weaver comes in and does his own criss-cross with Kevin, but Sullivan grabs the ropes to stop his momentum. Solie, at this point speculates about Sullivan possibly being a Druid. Kevin pulls out some dice and rolls for initiative, so he might have a point. I kid of course. Lewin comes in and wants a test of strength with McGhee, which he naturally wins. He locks McGhee in some holds until McGhee decides to climb up and over Lewin as if he were a step-ladder. Sullivan and Lewin manage to take back control and use frequent tags to keep the advantage. However, there are a couple of moments where it seems like Lewin had no idea what to do in between and Sullivan seems annoyed by this. McGhee attempts a couple of times to power through a hold to get to his corner, but Sullivan keeps preventing it. We get a false tag spot to Weaver before McGhee finally makes the hot tag. Weaver hits a running bulldog that Sullivan somehow manages to turn into a back bump, but he gets pushed off of the pin attempt by Lewin. He goes for the move again, but gets shoved into the corner. Sullivan and Lewin then work over his arm for a bit. At one point, they both grab his arm and play a little game of Ring Around the Rosey with it. Eventually, Lewin takes advantage of a ref distraction to drop a knee off of the top rope onto Weaver’s arm. Weaver sells it like it’s broken and Lewin gets a 3 count. After the match Sullivan and Lewin retrieve a foreign object from Gary Hart and jab it into McGhee’s forehead repeatedly. Angelo Mosca comes to make the save, but gets stabbed in the arm for his troubles. Eventually Weaver and Mosca are able to run them off and help McGhee out of the ring.
This was a far better match than the opener. It was good, but not great. It felt like Sullivan and Lewin made a few too many quick tags without any real plan of what to do in between them. However, it was still a solid match and the post-match antics made up for any shortcomings. Weaver’s selling of his arm was great and really added to the end. The crowd was rightfully hot for the end and the angle afterwards. The attack made Sullivan and Lewin look like sadistic monsters, which is great.
Winners: Sullivan & Lewin
Back in the announcer’s box Solie and Caudle are disgusted by the actions of Sullivan & Lewin. Solie points out that it was unnecessary as the two men had already gotten a victory. They then throw it to ringside interviewer, Barbara Clarey, for what is quite an amusing segment. Barbara is with the Estes Family, who say they traveled 180 miles to watch the show. This family is so southern that I honestly wonder if they are meant to be a parody. The father sounds exactly like Boomhauer when he talks. Barbara asks the entire family for predictions on the main event and they all say that Flair will win. The youngest son seems to be barely held in check as both parents have to hold his arms. Perhaps he’s angry about the end of the last match and wants to get revenge for McGhee?
Next, Tony Schiavone is with World Champion Harley Race, U.S. Champion Greg Valentine, and Tag Team Champions The Brisco Brothers. Tony says that he’s sure Greensboro is the last place that Race would want to be on Thanksgiving. Race corrects him by saying that on any given day Greensboro is the last place that he would want to be. Race says that he is getting insight from the men in the room on how to beat Flair. He then says that after talking to the men he knows all of Flair’s shortcomings and he will be exploiting them.
Abdullah the Butcher vs. Carlos Colon
Up next is the battle of the upsetting foreheads. Gordon Solie says that this match has been banned in Puerto Rico so the two men had to come to the mainland to settle their score.
The two men fight for control to start the match and the ref has trouble breaking them apart. Abby uses the distraction to go fishing in his pants for a foreign object. He uses it to quickly bust open Carlos before stashing it back in his trousers. Abby even manages to hit a springboard headbutt albeit from the first rope. Abby punches, headbutts, and claws at Carlos’ cut and his face until Colon is bleeding quite badly. Caudle points out that he has his fingers taped, which apparently makes the clawing all the more devastating. They eventually fight into a corner where Abby begins biting at Carlos, but Carlos uses the close proximity to reach into Abby’s pants and grab his…foreign object. He uses it to bust open Abby and the ref seems nonplussed. Carlos punches and claws at Abby’s cut much like he had done. He even bites at the cut and I sincerely hope this is before Abby got Hep C. He then uses the foreign object to dig at the corners of Abby’s mouth. Carlos gets a legdrop and an elbow drop, but only gets a 2 count. Eventually the ref gets hit by an errant elbow from Abby and the bloodthirsty crowd pop for the poor ref’s fate. While the ref is out, Carlos somehow gets a Figure Four on Abby’s thick legs, but a man in a suit runs in and clocks Carlos. We discover that it is none other than future WWF Spanish announcer Hugo Savinovich, who is Abby’s manager. The ref recovers just in time to count a 3 count to give Abby the win.
This was kind of a nothing brawl. If you’ve seen an Abdullah the Butcher match before then you know what to expect. The crowd was hot for it so it did its job. It wasn’t bad, but it was kind of just there. I did like how the commentators put over how controversial this feud is by saying that the match was banned in Puerto Rico. That is how you put some mystique around a match despite it not necessarily being great.
Winner: Abdullah the Butcher
Tony is backstage with Angelo Mosca, who has his arm wrapped in a bloody bandage. He is supposed to referee the Tag Title Match later and says that he would referee even if he only had one arm. He cuts an amazing promo about how seeing McGhee bloody reminded him of what happened to his own son. He says that the blood almost brought tears to his eyes and that it got his Latin blood in an uproar. The camera pans back to show McGhee slumped in the corner behind him looking practically dead. It was unintentionally amusing that Angelo was bandaged, but McGhee was sitting there bleeding freely like no one cared. Angelo goes on to say that Sullivan and Lewin’s actions have no place in the NWA or wrestling and that blood is thicker than water. Tony then asks him about the main event and Angelo hilariously becomes quite calm after ranting and raving. He says that Flair has the attitude and the aptitude and he knows that Ric will win the match.
Bob Orton Jr. & Dick Slater vs. Wahoo McDaniel & Mark Youngblood
Next, we have Randy’s dad and not quite dirty Dick Slater vs. Wahoo McDaniel and Mark Youngblood. This is the first match where they begin using these hilarious match graphics that are either still photos or short clips of the wrestlers staring blankly at the camera. Slater looks high as a kite in his photo. During the ring announcements, the ring announcer almost says “LOLklahoma” instead of “Oklahoma”. He then tries to introduce Dusty Rhodes as a special guest, but his mic starts cutting in and out. It’s pointless though because they never even show Dusty.
Wahoo and Slater start the match and Wahoo quickly gains the advantage. He whips Slater into a corner where he flips over the rope and goes to regroup with Orton for a moment. He comes back in, but gets more of the same from both Wahoo and Youngblood. There is some back and forth between Slater and Youngblood, until Slater gets booted over the top rope to the apron. He complains that it should be a DQ, but the ref says no since he didn’t go to the floor. We have some more back and forth, which eventually leads to an odd spot where Orton makes a tag, but the ref doesn’t recognize it for some reason and makes Orton stay in the ring. Slater manages to get control and sends Mark to the outside so that Orton can work him over for a bit. Orton drops Youngblood in a backbreaker across the guardrail (So Randy got that from his dad then?). Mark is in trouble for awhile with Slater and Orton cutting him off from making the tag. Eventually, Youngblood and Slater collide in the middle of the ring, which gives Mark a chance to tag in Wahoo. Wahoo comes in and starts firing off chops and hits a double noggin’ knocker. He cleans house and gets a couple of 2 counts. His rally is finally stopped when Orton nails him with a punch from the apron. Orton and Slater begin double teaming him, but Slater ends up hitting Orton by accident. This allows Wahoo to tag out and he and Youngblood return the favor by double teaming Slater. Orton then knocks Wahoo out of the ring, but Wahoo pulls Slater out to fight with him. The end comes when Orton hits Youngblood with a Superplex and gets a 3 count before Wahoo has time to break up the pin. After the bell rings, Slater and Orton beat down Wahoo and drag him to the outside where they take turns dropping knees onto his arm. The officials are eventually able to drive them away, but the damage is done.
This was a great match. It had a good pace that never really slowed. This is my first real look at Bob Orton Jr. in the ring other than his small part at WrestleMania 1. I was quite impressed and I definitely see where Randy Orton gets some of his moves.
Winners: Orton & Slater
Tony is with Flair, who is perched oddly on the arm of the couch. Steamboat and Jay Youngblood are sitting beside him. Tony asks Flair about Race’s comments from earlier. Flair says that he hopes Race is ready for the match of a lifetime because all the marbles are on the line. It is an oddly reserved promo compared to what I’m used to from Flair. Babyface Flair, at this time doesn’t seem the same as the heel Flair we become used to later. Tony then asks Steamboat and Jay for their comments. Jay is busy putting on some wrist tape and cuts a promo so mechanical that I swore he was reading his lines off of the tape. Steamboat cuts a slightly more enthusiastic promo about how they will win the tag team titles later. All of the men sounded a little bored for some reason.
Barbara is ringside with Dusty Rhodes, but unfortunately her mic doesn’t seem to be working properly. The sound cuts in and out and we only get pieces of Dusty’s promo. Solie says there are some technical difficulties and summarizes Dusty’s promo by saying that Rhodes will challenge the winner of the main event. Dusty seemed to be cutting his usual passionate promo, but it’s a shame we couldn’t hear him. The one line that comes through clearly is Dusty saying that he’s going to boogie back up to his box.
Title vs. Mask for the TV Title: Charlie Brown vs. Great Kabuki (c) w/ Gary Hart
Hmm, there’s something familiar about this Charlie Brown from out of town. I can’t put my finger on it, but I’ll make a valiant attempt.
All joking aside, Charlie Brown is Jimmy Valiant, who had lost a “Loser Leaves Town Match”. He came back under a mask. It was the precursor to the Mr. America gimmick that Hogan did in 2003. The commentators say that Gary Hart wants to unmask Charlie, so he can prove it is really Valiant. I have to say that Valiant, in this get-up reminds me of Son of Havoc from Lucha Underground, except not as muscly. After the ring announcements the commentators point out that the TV title can only change hands during the first 15 minutes of the match due to the TV Title rules. After that it’s simply a match for the mask.
The two men almost immediately fight to the outside, where the ref oddly enough allows quite a lot of rule breaking. Brown whips Kabuki into two ring posts and hits him with a chair before choking him with it as well. He even manages to crotch Kabuki on the ring post, so I’m guessing the ref has declared this a No DQ Match. After the crotching, Solie comments that Kabuki has a whole new set of problems. I’m really starting to enjoy Solie’s dry wit and subtle sarcasm. I can see a heavy influence on Jim Ross’ style of commentating. Brown then does some more damage to poor Kabuki’s balls before locking in a sleeper hold. Gary Hart, on the outside keeps attempting to interfere, but the crowd roars each time he approaches. Kabuki eventually uses an eye rake to break free and locks in an Iron Claw. Brown attempts to fight back a few times. He even dances while still in the claw, but Kabuki keeps locking the claw in again. At one point, Kabuki even comes off the top rope…to lock in the claw. I guess that somehow makes it hurt more. The ref checks the arm, but Solie says that Brown has kept it erect (Tee-hee!). Brown tries to hulk up again, but keeps getting chopped to the head. Kabuki even attempts to rip off his mask, but is unsuccessful. Brown finally fights back, but Kabuki reverses and attempts a running dropkick into the corner. He misses and lands on the back of his head, so Brown gives him an elbow drop and pins him for a 3 count, which makes Gary Hart furious.
It was an odd match. It was entertaining enough, but it was a bit sloppy. It was also odd that Brown seemed to be wrestling almost like a heel, despite being the face. The ref couldn’t make up his mind whether he was enforcing the rules or not and the match was never stated to be No DQ.
Winner: Charlie Brown (New champion??)
The commentators contemplate whether or not the win came within the 15 minute time limit. Solie says that Hart stands to lose a lot of money if his man is no longer champion. They seem to be waiting for the decision. To pass time, Caudle welcomes radio host Dude Walker to the booth. He asks him about Flair and Dude says that everyone is behind Flair and wants him to win. Walker leaves and the commentators talk about the main event for a bit. Then they bring up the upcoming Collar Match between Piper and Valentine. Solie talks about how Piper saved him from a beating, so Piper is his sentimental favorite for the match. After all of the stalling we sadly don’t get a report on whether Brown is the new TV champion, or not.
Tony is in the dressing room with Harley Race, Bob Orton Jr., and Dick Slater. Tony talks about how Race gave Orton and Slater a $25,000 bounty to take out Ric Flair. They did their job and got paid, but Flair came back. Orton brings up how Wahoo McDaniel helped Flair come back, but it doesn’t matter because Race will beat him anyway. Slater puts over Race and talks about how Crockett made it a Cage Match so that he and Orton couldn’t get involved. Race then talks about how he was watching Flair’s promo earlier. He says Orton and Slater know Flair best and know his weaknesses. Race brings up Flair’s injured neck and says he will be targeting it.
Back in the announcer’s box Barbara is redoing the Dusty interview. This time the mic thankfully works properly. Dusty amusingly calls Barbara “Bubba”. He says that he’s celebrating and partying down. He then properly issues his challenge to the winner of Flair/Race. He says that Race is known all over the world for his “staminas” and his complete drive and guts. He then talks about how Flair has the home town advantage. Dusty talks about how he could beat either man and when pressed for a prediction he implies that the “folk hero” Race will win.
Dog Collar Match: Roddy Piper vs. Greg Valentine
Up next is the Dog Collar match. Both men are already in the ring and are attached to each other by collars and a long chain. Valentine is announced as “The Man with the Bionic Elbow”. I thought that Dusty did the Bionic Elbow. Gordon Solie, once again mentions Piper being his sentimental favorite. Caudle then spends a little time putting over how dangerous the match is going to be. Solie mentions that Valentine injured Piper’s inner ear and says that Piper shouldn’t have come back so soon.
Once the two men are chained and collared, the match begins. They start by playing a game of tug-of-war using their necks. Eventually, they shorten the chain and begin trying to whip each other with it. Both men are reluctant and keep fighting to a stalemate. At this point, Caudle says that the two men are locked in MORTAL COMBAT!! Piper manages to gain control by nailing Valentine in the throat with the chain and then pulling it up into his crotch. This advantage lasts until Valentine starts going after his ear. There is a very cool spot where Valentine wraps the chain around Piper’s eyes and pulls it back. He then works over the ear some more, but Piper fights back and returns the favor from earlier by wrapping the chain around Valentine’s head. He wraps it around his mouth and pulls back until it sinks in like a bit in a horse’s mouth. He even manages to chain Valentine into the corner by wrapping the chain around the ring post. He beats Greg with the chain until he is bleeding. They end up fighting to the outside, where Valentine retakes control by going to the ear again and Piper’s ear is bleeding as well as his head and back. Piper sells the work on his ear well by stumbling around like he is off balance. This disorientation prevents some of his attempted comebacks. Eventually, he does manage to fight back and starts whipping the hell out of him with the chain, which gets a great reaction. He clotheslines Valentine with the chain and hits a chained fist drop before getting a couple of 2 counts. Both men are exhausted and bloody, so the ref starts a 10 count. They slowly rise to their knees and start trading punches and forearms until Valentine manages to get a sleeper. Piper breaks free by nailing him with a chained fist. Valentine attempts an elbow off the top, but Piper catches him with the chain and whips him repeatedly. He then hog ties Valentine with the chain and pins him for 3. The commentators mistakenly think that Piper has won the U.S. Title before realizing that this was a non-title match. Some of Piper’s friends come into the ring to celebrate, but Valentine attacks. He attempts to hang Piper over the top rope with the chain, but the refs are finally able to stop him. Valentine heads to the back, as Piper swings the chain around in the ring. Gordon Solie talks about Piper’s determination and says that he’s “a man and five yards wide”, which I’m pretty sure would make him fat.
This was a great bloody brawl. They told a good story with Piper’s inner ear injury. Both men were an absolute mess by the end of it.
Caudle says they are going back to Barbara, but we cut to Tony instead. Tony is in the dressing room with Flair and Wahoo, who has an ice pack on his arm. Tony brings up Race’s last promo and Flair says that Orton and Slater will answer for their actions soon enough. He then says that he expects Race to bring everything to beat him. Flair thanks Wahoo for helping him rehab his injuries. Tony then turns to Wahoo, who says that he would bet all of his money on Flair because he’s ready. He then accidentally says that the title will be coming back to Charlotte Flair. Geez, we have another time traveler on our hands!
Next, we finally cut to Barbara, who is ringside with former tag team champion, Don Kernodle. She brings up how Kernodle used to be tag champion with Sgt. Slaughter and then asks him for his comments on the upcoming Tag Title Match. He says that both teams are great and wishes them luck. He also says that he hopes for a great match. She then asks him about the main event and he says that he’s friends with Flair and wants to see him win.
World Tag Team Title Match: Ricky Steamboat & Jay Youngblood vs. The Brisco Brothers (c)
I’ve been looking forward to watching this one. I’m only familiar with Jerry Brisco from his days as a Stooge. I have always heard how good the Briscos are. This was my first time to see them in action.
Angelo Mosca is out to referee the match. His arm is still in a bloody bandage. The ring announcer introduces the teams and Jerry stands tall on the top turnbuckle until his name is announced. He then jumps down into the ring and puts his arms in the air. This got a good chuckle from me.
Jack and Steamboat start the match and fight to the corner for a clean break. Jack poses afterwards as if it were some sort of victory, but he quickly backs off when Steamboat threatens a chop. The two teams take turns controlling the match and trying to use quick tags, but the Briscos eventually gain control. Jerry, at one point locks in a key-lock to Jay’s arm, but Jay powers out with Jerry on his shoulder and drops him to the mat. Jerry sells this by flopping around like a fish. Both teams tag in a fresh man, but Jack gets the upper hand and the Briscos hit a sweet looking double shoulder tackle. Jerry then hits a nasty looking knee to the back of Jay’s neck while he’s sitting upright. They maintain control until Jerry gets into an argument with Angelo and the two shove each other. This allows Jay to tag out and Steamboat comes in with a flying fist drop and some chops to the head. Steamboat and Jay get some great double team moves including a spot where Ricky lifts Jay up so he can kick Jerry in the chest. He then whips Jay to the ropes and press slams him onto Jerry for the 3 count and the titles. The Briscos attack after the bell and take out Angelo. Jerry locks Steamboat into a Figure Four and Jack splashes him. However, when he goes for a top rope splash, Mosca catches him out of the air. The Briscos finally bail out of the ring and Steamboat and Youngblood celebrate with their titles.
This was a great match. I was not disappointed by the Briscos. They were great. Steamboat and Youngblood were great as well, but I expected nothing less from Ricky. The crowd was absolutely hot for this match as they should be.
Winners: Steamboat & Youngblood (New champions)
After the match, Solie takes a moment to list off the credits of the producers and directors. Isn’t that breaking kayfabe to admit there are producers? Caudle says that the main event is coming up after the intermission as they need some time to assemble the cage.
Tony is in the back with Flair, who is in his robe now and is pacing around nervously. Tony then says that it is a happy dressing room because of the new TV Champion Charlie Brown. So, that finally answers the confusion from earlier. A wheezy sounding Charlie Brown cuts a promo where he dedicates his win to Jimmy Valiant. Piper comes in next and he is still a little bloody. He asks if that’s all that Valentine has got and reminds him that he still has another ear. He then threatens to take the U.S. Title from him. This is followed up by the new Tag Team Champions Youngblood and Steamboat. They talk about how they are now 5 time (five time…five time…five time…you know the rest) champions. Jay cuts a much better promo than earlier, but Steamboat still sounds a bit bland.
Then, we go back to Caudle and Solie. Caudle congratulates the new tag champs and says that he’s impressed that they promised to defend the belts as often as they can. Where they not doing that any of the other four times? Solie then mentions that the Briscos probably have a rematch clause. Caudle says he is also impressed with Piper and Solie says that the man has heart. They try to throw it to Barbara, but apparently she isn’t ready yet so Solie thanks their fans in Puerto Rico.
Barbara is once again with Dusty Rhodes. This time Dusty has his arms around some female fans. They talk about the main event and Dusty says that no matter what the winner has to face him. He then says, “If I get any prettier standing in the middle of this, I’m the man of steel!” Um…what? I think Dusty might be a wee bit drunk. Dusty finishes by saying he has a prediction for the main event, but he’s not going to tell us what it is!
Next, we then cut to Tom Miller, as the picture quality gets a bit sketchy for a moment. He introduces James “Tiny” Weeks to sing the national anthem. James “Ironic Nickname” then does a decent if not a bit country version of the song.
Cage Match for the NWA Title: Ric Flair vs. Harley Race (c)
My god, it’s full of Starrcade! Also Sprach Zarathustra begins to play, as the lights go out in the arena. We even get a disco ball and a small laser light show on the ceiling. Flair doesn’t come out until the music is finished. Smoke fills the entryway and a light illuminates Flair from behind in a cool visual. He then gets a police escort to the ring as fans reach out to pat him on the back. He enters the cage and waits for Race. Harley enters the arena to no music and takes his time coming to the ring. The crowd boos him mercilessly so he stands, with his hands on his hips and soaks it in. He finally enters the cage and we have the introductions. Gene Kiniski is announced as the special guest referee. The two men jaw at each other as we wait for the bell. Caudle mentions that Race thinks it’s demeaning for him to have to wrestle in a cage. Kiniski explains the rules to the two men and apparently he’s doing a full lecture, as it takes forever. The bell finally rings and the two men begin to circle each other.
The match starts with the two men trying to out wrestle each other. The problem is whenever they fight into the ropes, Gene Kiniski calls for a clean break. This is a cage match, but Gene seems determined to highly enforce the rules and I can tell that it will be a detriment. As if that weren’t bad enough he also makes the slowest pin counts in history. At one point there isn’t even a 1 count on an attempt because he spent too long checking the shoulders. The back and forth between Flair and Race escalates until Race is dropping stiff knees onto Flair’s head, which seems to legitimately piss off Ric. Race doesn’t care and simply gives him more of the same. However, Gene physically pulls Race off of Flair a couple of times. Race eventually hits a piledriver, but doesn’t cover immediately, which is foolish considering how slowly Gene counts. Race then starts slamming Flair’s head into the cage, which makes Gene angry. Race hits Flair with a falling headbutt and we catch Ric blading on camera (Shocking, I know!). Flair eventually takes advantage after Gene pulls Race off of him and starts slamming Race into the cage as well. Gene yells, but Ric ignores him. Ric slams Harley into the pole in the cage wall and Gene yells a little louder. Race regains control with a headbutt to the gut and starts grating Flair’s face against the cage, which leads to a shoving match between Gene and Race. Flair takes advantage of this and eventually locks in a Figure Four, but it gets reversed back and forth until Ric goes to the ropes. The two men fight back and forth some more until Race is becoming exhausted and is grunting quite loudly. He ends up tossing Flair against the cage wall where he falls in between the ropes. Race tries to step on Flair’s throat, but Gene pulls him away by the hair. Flair and Race struggle back and forth until Flair pushes Race into Gene and then goes to the top rope. As we all know, this never ends well for Flair…wait…what the hell?? Flair actually hits a flying cross body off of the top and Race stumbles over Gene, who is still on the mat. Flair pins Race for a 3 count and wins the title. Race is in complete disbelief as Steamboat enters the cage to celebrate with Flair. Angelo Moska, and a few others enter as well. They lift Flair up onto their shoulders as he is announced as the new champion. Beth Flair enters the ring and gives Ric a hug and a kiss. She is then escorted out of the ring and Steamboat helps Flair put on the belt. We then get a shot of a ring attendant wiping some of Ric’s blood off of Beth’s face. Flair gets a mic and thanks the fans before saying that it is the greatest moment of his life.
It was a good match, but it was held back from being great by Gene Kiniski’s awful refereeing. It certainly has historical significance though. It wasn’t Flair’s first title win, but his first run was fairly unremarkable. This win felt more grand and would catapult Flair into superstar status.
Winner: Flair (New Champion)
Flair heads to the back, where Tony interviews him. Flair thanks his friends Steamboat, Youngblood, Wahoo, and even thanks Crockett. Steamboat comes in to shake his hand and congratulate him. He then tells Ric that he owes him one and Flair agrees. Others join the celebration and begin pouring champagne onto Flair’s head. Dusty Rhodes then enters the room and congratulates him before reminding Flair that he has to face him next.
After that, we go back to the commentators who contemplate whether or not Race will give an interview. Solie says that based on the caliber of person Race is he will give them an interview. They then talk about how Flair will have a target on this back.
Barbara is with a dejected Harley Race. She says she is sorry for his loss. Race says that he’s done this 7 times before and nothing will stop him from doing it for the 8th time. He calls Flair “The Ultimate Flair”. Now, I have an image of Flair in face paint running through my mind. Race then says that this night was arranged for Flair. Hey, don’t break kayfabe, Harley! Race says he won’t hide and he will hound Flair like he’s never been hounded before. He says that Flair will live through Hell until he beats him again. During the interview there is unfortunately lots of audio feedback.
Tony is back again with Flair, Steamboat, and Youngblood. Everyone is holding their title belts. Flair says that it was a dream for the 3 of them to be champions together. He then says that Steamboat will finally allow him to have a beer again since training is over. Flair thanks Steamboat and congratulates the two of them on their own title win. Steamboat and Youngblood then thank everyone for believing in them.
We cut back to the commentators one last time. Caudle and Solie thank everyone for watching and compare Starrcade to the World Series and the Superbowl. We end the night with some highlights of the main event.
I thought that it was overall a good show. It will always be compared to WrestleMania for obvious reasons. WrestleMania 1 holds the bigger historical significance, but I think, match quality wise that this was the better show. It was plagued with a few technical difficulties, but nothing game breaking. I recommend watching it if not just for the significance of the event. However, I would advise you simply skip the first match.
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