Yes, this is what the opposition was doing during the WWF’s lead-in to WrestleMania. After a slightly lackluster Superstars on the Superstation, it’s time for Jim Crockett Promotions to build up some good stuff. Jimmy Garvin debuted somewhere in here, but I don’t have anything with him scheduled to watch. The matchups look really good. Let’s get to it.
– Taped to Air February 22nd, 1986, on World Championship Wrestling, from Atlanta, Georgia
Ric Flair cuts a promo
Ric Flair joins David Crockett and Tony Schiavone at the desk to talk some shit. I usually love that. He talks about stylin’ and profilin’, and has a bag. In that bag, he has a BIG GOLD BELT! Yes, it’s time for the BIG GOLD BELT. The best title belt in the history of wrestling right there brother. He calls out a number of guys, which elevates them to his position by proxy. I think wrestling lacks that these days.
Magnum TA (US Champion) vs. Bill Tabb
Pre-Match Thoughts: Before the match, Ivan and Nikita are cutting a promo at the desk, talking all kinds of stuff about Magnum TA being a coward. The Nikita/Magnum feud is about to launch, obviously.
Match Review: The match goes about how you’d expect. Tabb is well put together for a jobber, but it’s of no consequence. Magnum gives him the BELLY TO BELLY and pins him in about 20 seconds.
After the match, Magnum challenges Nikita, and attacks him from behind. Now they brawl, and it looks really legit as Magnum’s brawls tend to do. All the wrestlers break them up, and the feud is ON. No real post-match thoughts needed, I don’t rate squash matches, and the brawl was obviously very good.
– Taped to Air March 1st, 1986, on World Championship Wrestling
Ron Garvin vs. Arn Anderson for the NWA World Television Championship
Pre-Match Thoughts: This is going to be the hard-hittingest of matches, it just has to be. Love seeing matches like this on a usual squash show, and if there are many more of them, this should be a very fun article to write indeed. HANDS OF STONE VS THE ENFORCER BAH GAWD. This match has a 10 minute time limit.
Match Review: They lock up, and Arn yells at Garvin after the break. This is what I want to see. Arn clobbers Garvin in the corner, but gets whipped into the buckle. So he heads to the outside and takes a breather. Back in now, and Garvin does his chops and headbutts to the current TV Champion. The studio crowd wants Garvin to break Arn’s arm, but Arn reverses the armbar into one of his own. Then he gets chopped. Hard. They exchange hammerlocks, and Arn gets into the ropes. Arn takes Garvin down with a headlock, and applies a top wristlock. Garvin rolls out, and drops Arn on his chest. Strong move there. Garvin works Arn over and ties him up like a pretzel, which is pretty amusing. Arn reaches the ropes, but now the tone is set. Garvin chops the shit out of Arn, and goes for a cover which only gets 1. Garvin goes for a small package, which gets 2, and Arn pops right back up as we fade out.
After the commercial, Garvin has Arn in a cross-armbreaker like move. Arn reaches the ropes yet again, at which point RIC FLAIR comes to ringside. WOOOOOOOOO. Garvin and Arn struggle over Arn’s left arm for some time, but once that’s over, Garvin gives Arn a shoulderblock. Then Arn responds with a backdrop. Arn slams Garvin, and puts a bear hug on the challenger. Arn lets go, and tries another backdrop, but Garvin turns it into a sunset-flip for a 2 count. The time limit is approaching, and Garvin slams Arn. He drops an elbow, but his back hurts too much after that backdrop earlier. A cover only gets 1, and Arn springs to his feet to lay in some shots. Garvin throws Arn into the buckle again, and gives Arn a backdrop of his own. Arn is a smart guy, and gets the hell out of the ring to kill time. After getting chopped he does it again, so Garvin chases him back in the ring, and puts him in an abdominal stretch. But there’s the 10 minute time limit, and Arn Anderson keeps his title.
Ric Flair is mad, and he sets up Garvin to get beaten up. Arn lands the GOURDBUSTER on Garvin, and the Horsemen are through with Garvin…for now.
My Thoughts: This was just getting going, and with 10 more minutes it would have been an awesome match. Instead it was a **1/2, decent short match. That’s okay. It will be nice to see more matches with Garvin involved, and more with Arn involved as time goes on. I’ll certainly be seeing many Arn Anderson matches.
– Taped to Air March 8th, 1986, on World Championship Wrestling, from Spartanburg, South Carolina
Tully Blanchard (w/JJ Dillon) vs. Dusty Rhodes (w/Baby Doll for the NWA National Heavyweight Championship
Pre-Match Thoughts: Before this match, Jim Crockett announces that the NWA National Tag Team Championships have been vacated due to Ole Anderson being injured. They stay vacated, permanently. RIP National Tag Team Championships. This match is out of the studio and in front of a real crowd, so it’s going to be a hot crowd. This is also joined in progress.
Match Review: It is joined right at the moment of Tully kicking Dusty in the leg. Dusty goes to the outside, and Tully chases him, then he and JJ put the boots to the champion. Ric Flair is on commentary, which is pretty cool. Tully works over that left leg of Dusty’s, but Dusty fights back with ELBOWS. The hold is broken now, but Dusty can’t stand, and Tully goes to get him. I like the tenor of this match more because Tully is the one who hurt Dusty’s leg, he didn’t hurt it himself. Tully applies a spinning toe-hold on Dusty, and for a bit there I thought he’d give. Then I realized it was the 80’s. Tully puts Dusty in a FIGURE-FOUR, and to be honest at this point, I can’t wait to see some variety in these leg holds coming up soon. It’s definitely needed. Dusty reverses the hold, and it’s in the center of the ring, but Tully breaks out and we go to commercial.
Back from that commercial, Dusty is making his charge back, and lands a football tackle to Tully’s leg. He tries for a bodyslam, but his leg is so messed up that he falls down. Tully is on that leg like a jackal, and drops a few knees on it. Tully goes for the SLINGSHOT SUPLEX, and LANDS IT. Dusty kicks out at 2. What the hell, just killed the finisher. Tully reverses a suplex, winds up behind Dusty, but gets clotheslined anyway. Dusty does his jivin’ punches, lands a double shot on Tully, and I think he’s ready for the elbow. Into the ropes Tully goes, and Dusty puts on a SLEEPER instead. JJ gets on the apron, misses a punch, and Dusty gets the sleeper on him. But JJ throws some brass knuckles in the ring, which Tully summarily puts on…and he gets backdropped out of the ring. I thought it was going to be over there. Ric Flair makes sure Tully gets the brass knuckles on again, then Dusty tries to back suplex Tully in, and they do the Savage/Santana title change finish just a month later. Tully clocks Dusty with the knuckles, falls on top, and gets the win and title at around 7:30 shown.
Baby Doll is super pissed, and runs in the ring to start beating up Flair, but JJ Dillon grabs Baby Doll by the hair and knocks her down. Oh shit. Then the Horsemen CLIP HER DOWN AT THE KNEES. Flair has every intention of crippling Baby Doll with a move off the top rope, but BAH GAWD IT’S MAGNUM TA, SAM HOUSTON, RICKY MORTON, AND ROBERT GIBSON COMING TO MAKE THE SAVE BAH GAWD. Enormous heat on that finish, I mean damn. Back in the studio, and Dusty Rhodes cuts an epic promo. Like Hard Times II status of a promo. He’s so pissed about losing his title that he starts taking off his clothes, and they quickly cut to a commercial.
My Thoughts: Well, I didn’t really know that the Horsemen were going to try to cripple Baby Doll. That’s kind of lost information, at least in the circles I’ve been around. The match wasn’t super spectacular, and I didn’t like the copied finish, but that’s okay. It does show the flaw of the Dusty finish, because why doesn’t the logic apply here when it’s a babyface getting screwed? That’s one of Dusty’s biggest faults as a booker. I don’t like rating matches that are joined that far in progress, so I won’t. The post-match angle was up there with the best of things, but the violence against women is a bit too much. I’m glad that’s an aspect of wrestling that has gone by the wayside. This match and angle are definitely recommended, find the March 8th episode of Saturday Night, FF to halfway, chill out and watch it.
– Taped to Air March 15th, 1986, on Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, from Mooresville, North Carolina
Black Bart vs. Sam Houston for the NWA Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Championship
Pre-Match Thoughts: Mooresville, by the way, was a very small town. It’s quite interesting to hear about TV being taped in these places. Not very far from Charlotte, though. It was quite difficult to find this match, but I did so and I’m happy about it. Bob Caudle and Ronnie Garvin are on commentary, which is pretty cool.
Match Review: The match starts with Bart chopping Houston very hard, and Houston responding by chopping Bart very hard. Bart then misses a clothesline and Houston takes him down with a cross-body for 2. Bart gets up, and Houston dropkicks him three times, causing Bart to head out of the ring. They lock up when Bart gets back in, and Bart gets dropkicked over the top rope to ringside. Crowd liked that. Houston gives Bart a big flying clothesline for 2, and an arm drag. After Houston works on the arm, Bart drags him to the corner, and beats him up with assorted punches and chops. However, he misses a charge to the corner and Houston pulls him down, locking him in an armbar.
After the commercial, Bart appears to be in control, and he gives Houston a HOTSHOT. Bart drops Houston on the top rope again, and lands a big clothesline on the champion. Cover got 1. Bart then rams Houston into the mat, and gives him a backbreaker. He chokes Houston and goes for a big leapfrog body guillotine, which he lands. That really looks like a death move. Cover gets 2, as Houston puts his foot on the ropes. Bart repeatedly bites Houston, and he sells it very well as he usually does, but it’s time for Houston to make his comeback. He motions for the bulldog, nearly gets atomic dropped, and lands a dropkick on Bart that knocks down Tommy Young. Houston then goes for a flying head-scissors, but of course, there’s no referee. It would have been a three count. Houston lands the bulldog and goes for the cover, but the same thing happens. Instead he punches Bart in the face, but he gets dumped hard to ringside. Bart gives Houston the hardest damn leg drop across the second rope that I’ve ever seen, hauls him in, and gets the pinfall victory at 10:50 (shown).
My Thoughts: This was good stuff, a nice midcard match. I liked the pace, and enjoyed the offense. Houston is a great seller and he allowed himself to get destroyed by Bart, which is always fun. That finish was lethal, but I think it would have been better served without the ref bump. Fun match, **3/4.
– Taped to Air March 29th, 1986, on World Championship Wrestling
Pez Whatley & Jimmy Valiant
I nearly forgot about this heel turn, and didn’t have it on my list. Anyway, Jimmy Valiant, a very funny midcard act, was friends with this guy. Then he calls Whatley the “best black athlete in the world.” I guess that pissed Pez off, because afterward he beat the crap out of Valiant. AND BAH GAWD HE CUTS HIS PONY TAIL OFF. David Crockett sold this so well, I couldn’t stop laughing. Magnum came out to save Valiant, but it was far too late by that point. Good stuff.
Art Pritts & Kent Glover vs. The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express
SLICK RIC is going to be on commentary for this deal. Before the match, he talks about the Final Four, and the Crockett Cup. He puts over the other wrestlers so well, it’s something lacking from the business these days, in my opinion.
I don’t really care about the match, just Flair’s commentary. His commentary is excellent, and of course, a RnR squash match is being included for other reasons, so I’ll get to them. Flair is talking about the teenagers in their training underwear who think Ricky Morton is a big deal, and that’s insulting to him. This is perhaps the best guest commentary I’ve ever heard in my life. I’m surprised he said that the Midnight Express were his buddies, though. Of course, the match is a total afterthought, and the Express wins with their double dropkick.
After the match, Flair goes a bit crazy. He tells David that this is gonna be BIG STUFF. Oh boy. He’s critiquing Morton’s taste in the WOMEN. He has a TRAINING BRA FOR MORTON BAH GAWD. And he puts it over his shoulder and says “how bout that, sport.” I’m dying over here. Morton very stupidly breaks Flair’s glasses, and IT’S FUCKING ON BROTHER. The crowd is on fire as Flair and Morton brawl all around ringside, with Gibson trying to stay out of the way. They get in the ring, Morton whips Flair over the top rope and slaps him repeatedly, suplexes him back into the ring to finish things off, and this may be the best studio TV angle that I’ve ever seen. Highest recommendation. The booking heading into the summer, and the Great American Bash tour, is off the charts.
– Taped to Air April 5th, 1986, on World Championship Wrestling
Ron Garvin vs. Arn Anderson for the NWA World Television Championship
Pre-Match Thoughts: Before the match, for some weird reason, Paul Jones Army has a promo. That’s Shaska Whatley, Paul Jones, The Barbarian, Teijo Khan, and Baron von Raschke. Okay. As for the match, let’s do it again!
Match Review: The story here is that Arn has lost his cool. There is, of course, still the time limit in play. The studio crowd is pretty hot for this. Arn gives Garvin a headlock takeover, works that head for some time, and Garvin reverses into a wristlock. They switch holds for a bit, until Arn pulls Garvin’s hair. Then, they do the referee asks the crowd if Arn pulled Garvin’s hair bit, but it changes nothing. Garvin winds up on top, but Arn gets to the outside. Garvin chases, catches a kick from Arn, and hits him with a big right. Garvin lands his awesome chops, causing Arn to fall down face first. Garvin ties Arn up like a pretzel, then chops him hard again. I wish Arn did those chops. Garvin covers for 2, but it gets reversed into an Arn cover for 2, then Arn takes a break. After that break, Arn turns one of Garvin’s chops into a takedown and armbar. Garvin reverses into a chinlock, which he uses to drop elbows on Arn’s head repeatedly.
After the commercial, Garvin seems to have Arn locked up in an armbar. In addition, Tully Blanchard is on commentary. Garvin shoots Arn into the buckle, and hits him with that big right hand. A double stomp follows, and a small package by Garvin gets 2. JJ Dillon walks to the ring now, while Arn is getting beaten up. Garvin gives Arn a hard suplex, but Arn comes back with a stomach breaker. He goes for a body-scissors on Garvin, but Garvin turns that around, winds up on top, then chokes and chops. Into the buckle Arn goes, and Garvin lands a backdrop. Garvin signals for the HANDS OF STONE, but Arn ducks out of the ring. Garvin and Arn collide into each other during some rope running, then Garvin puts Arn in an abdominal stretch. Tully Blanchard runs in, attacks Garvin from behind, and that’s the end of the match with about 10 minutes shown.
Tully puts the boots to Garvin, then he and Arn give Garvin a DOUBLE GOURDBUSTER. Then they take Garvin to the corner, and try to break his hand. Tully hits Garvin in the right hand with his cowboy boot, and I guess his hand is broken now. Tully cuts a promo with Tony Schiavone at the desk after the match, and that’s it.
My Thoughts: This had a better ending than the last match between these two. I especially enjoyed that when Garvin put Arn in the abdominal stretch again, something happened to prevent him from winning again. I’d give it **1/2 as well, the angle after the match was really good. In addition, I’m really liking the way the TV Title is booked, and over time, I think it may grow to be my favorite title, due to the different sets of rules and workers that usually wrestle in those matches.
– Taped to Air April 12th, 1986, on World Championship Wrestling
Road Warriors Cut a Promo
Apparently there was an incident in Baltimore that they’re gonna show on this here World Championship Wrestling. They thought their feud with the Russians was over, but the Russians decided to take Paul Ellering and Animal out with their chain. That’s ruthless. Hawk wasn’t there because he was injured, and the Russians took advantage of that to great degree. Anyway, I don’t have any video of it, but the angle perfectly explains why the Road Warriors worked CHAIN MATCHES with the Russians over the summer.
Sam Houston vs. Arn Anderson for the NWA World Television Championship
Pre-Match Thoughts: Houston just lost his Mid-Atlantic Title, but he’s a good worker and I’m really digging this Television Title series. So, here’s yet another Arn Anderson match. It may be better than the Garvin matches, and Flair is on commentary for this too. Time limit is 10 minutes.
Match Review: Arn pushes Houston very hard, and while that’s going on, I’m thinking that Houston is the perfect kind of challenger for this kind of match. Arn throws Houston through the ropes to the outside, but he lands on his feet and knocks Arn out of the ring! Flair puts Houston over on commentary, which again shows that Flair knows what he’s doing better than any other top guy out there. Arn shoulderblocks Houston, but Houston replies by leapfrogging Arn the next time Arn runs the ropes, hip-tossing him, and giving him two dropkicks. Houston shows his hubris by going for an early bulldog, but instead Houston springboards onto the ropes, gives Arn a cross-body that gets reversed, and Arn gives Houston a HOTSHOT. That sequence, wow. Arn gives Houston a bodyslam, and a knee drop. Cover gets 2. Arn puts the boots to the challenger, and gives him the SPINEBUSTER BAH GAWD. That’s a ridiculous bump to take in 1986, what a bumper Houston is. Cover gets a 2 count. Houston surprisingly rolls Arn up for 2, but misses a dropkick. The GOURDBUSTER follows, and Arn retains his title at 5:16.
My Thoughts: That’s what a 5 minute match should look like. Quick, hard-hitting, and sensible. Arn looks really strong in his role as TV Champion, it is better than his being paired with Ole in my opinion. **1/2.
– Taped to Air April 19th, 1986, on World Championship Wrestling
Manny Fernandez vs. Arn Anderson for the NWA World Television Championship
Pre-Match Thoughts: The Crockett Cup is going on at the same time as this show, quite obviously, this show is taped. I wish there was a full video of the Crockett Cup, I’d watch it and review it, but there isn’t one. There’s a clip tape, but that’s about it. I hope that they release the whole show on WWE Network. I need to see it. Wonder who booked it, too. 20 minute time limit this week! This could be an amazing match.
Match Review: Dusty Rhodes is on commentary, which is fantastic. Arn stalls for quite a bit, then they finally lock up, and Arn gets taken down with a cross-body for a one count. Arn quickly bails out of the ring, and when he gets back in, misses a charge and gets elbowed. Arn stalls even more, and gets elbowed again. Haha. Arn asks how much time is left in this match, and finally gets back in the ring. This time, Fernandez gives him a shoulderblock, and a backhand to the jaw. Arn stalls, heading into the commercial…I am not surprised.
Back from the commercial, Fernandez has Arn’s left wrist locked up. Arn’s left arm is his punching arm, remember. Fernandez then takes Arn down with a drop toe-hold. Fernandez lands a few knees to the thigh, and holds onto that leg. Fernandez continues with the toe-hold, and drops an elbow on the knee. Arn takes this beating for some time, and Fernandez eventually tries the SPINNING TOE-HOLD. Unfortunately, they take another commercial.
After that commercial, Fernandez gives Arn a shin-breaker, and locks in the FIGURE-FOUR LEGLOCK. Arn gets up, gets kicked again, and Fernandez continues to put the boots to that leg. He puts Arn in a half-crab, but shortly lets go, and gets kicked by Arn into the turnbuckle. Arn takes Fernandez down, drops the knee twice, and covers for one. Arn gives Fernandez a flapjack, and locks in a body-scissors. Arn tried a knee to the gut, it landed, but his leg is messed up. So he’s hurt. Fernandez hits Arn with a flying clothesline, picks him up, and tries for a dropkick that misses. Arn misses an elbow drop himself, and Fernandez replies with a clothesline from the second rope. Fernandez lands the FLYING BURRITO, covers, and Arn gets his foot on the ropes as the 20 minute time limit expires.
TULLY BLANCHARD and JJ DILLON show up, JJ distracts Dusty, and Tully runs in to beat Fernandez up. Dusty finally notices what’s going on, and so does Ron Garvin, who runs in and punches Arn Anderson with his messed up hand from a few weeks ago. Arn is still the champion, however.
My Thoughts: This was a bit pedestrian, which was surprising from these two. Both guys could go in the ring, but I guess they saw the time limit draw and killed a lot of time. I suppose that’s okay. I’d give this **, which for the period isn’t so bad at all.
– April 19th, 1986, the CROCKETT CUP, from New Orleans, Louisiana
Crockett Cup Final: Magnum TA (US Champion) & Ron Garvin vs. The Road Warriors (w/Paul Ellering)
Pre-Match Thoughts: It’s really unfortunate that there’s no copy of this entire show kicking around. Wish there was one. However, we have to roll with things as they are right now, there’s no choice in the matter. It was pretty much accepted that the winner of this tournament would determine the top team in professional wrestling (non-WWF) in the eyes of the fans. The lineup of teams was pretty much a who’s who of Florida, Mid-South, and Jim Crockett Promotions. I believe Montreal and Memphis also sent a team or two. Giant Baba and Tiger Mask were there too! As such, Magnum and Garvin getting to the Final may have been perceived as a bit of a surprise. I wonder what the crowd at the Superdome was like that day. Unfortunately, judging by Garvin and Magnum’s behavior, they’re either really tired or not going over. I hope the match doesn’t suffer.
Match Review: Animal hip-tosses Magnum, Animal misses an elbow drop, Magnum gives him an arm-drag, and a dropkick. Well that’s a quick start. There’s a billboard with the Marlboro Man in the background, and seeing him on the same screen as Magnum TA is just weird. The Marlboro Man is everywhere, I tell you. Animal had Magnum in a wristlock, but the US Champ switched to a hammerlock. Nicely done. Garvin tags in, still working his broken hand gimmick, and Hawk tags in as well. Garvin lays in a chop, which makes Hawk very angry. He gouges Garvin’s eyes, and stomps a mudhole in him. Hawk then puts Garvin in a chinlock, picks him up, and press slams him. To the second rope Hawk goes, but he misses a flying headbutt. Garvin goes with a small package which gets 2, and chops Hawk again. Magnum tags in, and they botch a dropkick, for a 2 count. Aw. Magnum didn’t like that very much at all. Hawk picks Magnum up and carries him to his corner to tag in Animal, who kicks Magnum a bunch. Animal picks Magnum up in a big bear hug, but Magnum breaks it. Hawk tags in, and gives Magnum a gutwrench suplex. Cover gets 2. Hawk picks Magnum up in another gutwrench, and gives him a backbreaker drop. That shit looks like it would HURT. Hawk lands a big boot on Magnum and goes for the tag, then Animal puts Magnum TA in a chinlock. Magnum gets fired up, comes out of it, and gets pulled back down. Hawk tags in, and blocks a sunset-flip by Magnum, but misses a leg drop. Hawk drops a fist on Magnum, and tags in Animal, who gives Magnum a great looking powerslam for 2. I love the style of powerslam that he and Ron Simmons used to give out. Magnum lands the BELLY TO BELLY on Animal out of nowhere, but it only gets 2 as Hawk breaks up the cover.
Magnum makes the tag, nobody cheers that much because the Road Warriors are far more over than Magnum & Garvin, but Garvin tries a headbutt. In an awesome bit, he and Hawk headbutt each other, and both get hurt. I liked that. Garvin tries to put Hawk in an adombinal stretch, it fails, and HE HITS HAWK WITH THE HANDS OF STONE. Unfortunately, as we know from the last few weeks of TV, Garvin has a broken hand. He sells that, Animal tags in, and gives him a stiff clothesline. Magnum isn’t paying attention, Animal goes for the cover, and gets the win and CROCKETT CUP VICTORY at 9:49. They celebrate with the cool looking trophy for a bit, and the DVD cuts out to the main menu before the Road Warriors get their “million dollar” check. Damn!
My Thoughts: There was good action here, and I liked the finish quite a bit. It was inventive, and nicely done to keep Garvin from looking weak. It showed that he was tough enough to think he could hurt someone with his fucked up hand, and I think it plays off the tournament being so long and grueling that somebody would forget about a thing like that. **1/2. I would have loved to watch the whole tournament, but it was not to be. I hope at some point the whole show will be uploaded to WWE Network. Of course, this match establishes what a dominant force the Road Warriors are, and how much doubt there should be that anyone could stop them.
That was a lot of fun. Jim Crockett Promotions is headed towards a good summer, there’s no doubt about that. It was nice to see so many lengthy matches on their TV, it wasn’t expected but ultimately was very good viewing. Fortunately, I didn’t come across anything that was terrible. There’s always that element of surprise when deciding to watch things based on matchups, but that wasn’t a problem here. I should also note that the Great American Bash ’86 tape is much better than the 1985 tape, so I’ll be watching and reviewing that in the future. However, next up is WrestleMania 2, which I’ll be watching on the WWE Network!
Best: Ric Flair starting his feud with Ricky Morton. It was amazing.
Worst: Nothing. Perhaps the Whatley turn on Valiant was by default, but I enjoyed it an awful lot.