Kayfabe, Lies and Alibis: Timeline – Tully Blanchard on JCP 1987

Tully takes us into the world of JCP with the Horsemen, War Games, Dusty’s booking and much more!

Presented by Kayfabe Commentaries

Hosted by Sean Oliver

Blanchard came to JCP in 1984. Dory Funk Jr. was booking and he put Tully over TV champ Mark Youngblood to heat him up.

Tully booked part of his own angles and altered the rules of TV title matches in order to come across as more of a chickenshit heel.

JCP business was tanking, so Dusty Rhodes came in as booker. Tully went to Rhodes and told him they needed to put the top guys against one another to pop the houses. He then suggested Wahoo McDaniel work with Flair, so Tully could work with Rhodes and pinball around, making Dusty look great. Rhodes went for it.

Barry Windham was a great young talent at the time and he put on tremendous matches with Blanchard.

We go back to 1987 and the talk turns to cable TV causing the territories to crumble.

Blanchard mentions the little talked about expansion effort with Georgia Championship Wrestling on TBS partnering with Southwest Wrestling on the USA Network in 1983. Tully was the son of Southwest promoter, Joe Blanchard, so he helped manipulate the booking. This saw Tommy Rich and Baron Von Raschke come to Texas to try and strengthen Southwest’s business.

JCP was making a lot of money in 1985 and ’86, but they blew it on buying dead territories and other amenities, which left the guys like Blanchard who were drawing all the cash not to be properly compensated.

Lex Luger came to JCP in January 1987 with a big money contract and a monster push.

The heels in JCP were there to get the babyfaces over, as such the heels tended to be pushed as champions in order to give the babyface a goal to chase.

The Horsemen believed in making the jobbers look good because otherwise beating a guy didn’t mean anything.

47-year-old Bob Armstrong was not up for bumping by the time he had a run in JCP. This made his son Brad responsible for letting the heels get heat on the Armstrongs.

Brad was a great talent, but seemed to be missing something, as he just could not get over to a high level in spite of getting a solid push.

Blanchard is not sure what the Road Warriors thought of Demolition ripping off their gimmicks. This is because the heels and faces had separate locker rooms. He rarely saw the Warriors outside of the ring, other than on the day everyone gathered to cut promos.

The Saturday Night 6:05 show was a drag to tape because it was done early each Saturday, and the talent were tired from driving in from last night’s show – plus some were hung over or coming down from drugs.

Magnum T.A. made his first appearance since his career-ending accident in February of 1987. This prompts Blanchard to talk about his feud with Magnum. Blanchard relates a story about accidentally suplexing TA from the ring to the cement floor. TA was very sore from the bump, but avoided a catastrophic injury. TA and Tully were rough with one another nightly in their bouts.

Blanchard was a bit of a loner. He traveled alone and tried to avoid locker room politics. He would read Dave Meltzer’s newsletters to get caught up on things though.

Dick Murdoch returned to JCP in early 1987. The roster needed as many stars as possible, because they were running split crews and no one wanted to have to go into a town that the other tour had killed off.

Murdoch’s behavior depended on how much beer he drank that day. Dick had a lot of crazy antics when he was away from the ring.

Dusty Rhodes put himself over in the “Bunkhouse Stampede” finals by beating Big Bubba in a cage. Tully refrains from bashing Rhodes booking himself to win constantly. This is probably due to Rhodes now being deceased. Blanchard shit on Dusty in every shoot prior to this one.

Ole Anderson split from the Horsemen at the end of February ’87. Blanchard thinks the Horsemen held up through the changes until he and Arn Anderson left in September of ’88. The Horsemen never truly recovered from that, despite a lot of guys getting spots with them over the next decade.

JCP needed to avoid the cartoon gimmicks that the WWF pushed in order to present a different product. It worked as JCP made a lot of money, which was then wasted.

Being a Horsemen allowed Luger to learn and grow as a worker.

Bringing JCP talent into areas they bought out, like Florida, ended up hurting the local stars. This was due to the fact that the main event matches were JCP guys facing JCP guys, instead of taking on the local headline acts. This told the fans those guys were lesser talents and hurt the local houses.

Blanchard avoided the business talk that took place with Jim Crockett and Rhodes backstage and on the JCP planes. Blanchard liked riding up front of the plane with the pilot, and even flew the plane from time to time.

Wahoo McDaniel would chop you so hard that your chest bled. McDaniel received his last NWA title match in the Spring of ’87. He headed off to the AWA to become the booker a few weeks later. He was pushing 50 by this point.

Tully’s goal each night was to get heat. This was very easy when facing one of the headline stars, as the fans were way behind the babyfaces. Blanchard would be devious to the lower card guys as well, in order to be as hated as possible.

In April, Dusty put himself over by having Nikita Koloff and himself win the “Crockett Cup” tournament.

Baltimore fans really hated the Horsemen. A little ways down the road the Philly fans would cheer them.

Tully was such a natural dick that he kept the Horsemen as heels, even as Ric Flair and the others got cheers for being awesome promos and talents.

The dynamics of working with non-English speaking wrestlers is gone over. There was a lot less spot calling, and more improvisation.

Losing on top did not bother Blanchard because he was being paid very well, and he knew his role as a heel was to lose blow off matches.

JCP spent millions buying the UWF in late Spring. Crockett buried his investment right away by sending Big Bubba to win their top title right.

Ole Anderson wanted to call his own matches, which made him hard to work with once he turned babyface, as the heels tended to call the matches. Anderson would be gone soon.

Ricky Morton understood the mastery of selling, which meant fighting back just enough to keep himself alive.

Hillsville, Virginia bore witness to a horrid JCP card with Jimmy Valiant and the Italian Stallion facing the New Breed in the main event. 850 fans attended. Here’s the rest of the card from thehistoryofwwe.com:

Mark Fleming defeated David Diamond
Denny Brown defeated John Savage
Gary Royal defeated Mark Fleming
Nelson Royal defeated Rocky King
The Italian Stallion defeated Larry Stephens
Vladimir Petrov defeated Todd Champion

The WWF wanted to script Blanchard and Anderson – this appalled them as Arn and Tully had drawn so well in JCP while cutting their own promos.

Dark Journey came in to briefly become Blanchard’s valet. JCP was attempting to recreate the Baby Doll dynamic, but the chemistry was not there.

The Fabulous Freebirds came in from the UWF in May and were put into a program with the Horsemen right away.

Being attacked by a fan should be the finest compliment a heel could receive. Blanchard and Gino Hernandez were chased out of an arena once by a group of fans after they attacked Mil Mascaras in Texas.

Dusty put himself with Tully many times over the four years they were together because it always drew money.

The babyfaces trusted the Horsemen, so they never had issues with being in charge of calling the action.

Ron Simmons came in as a green guy in July. He was a college football star, but he had to go out and prove himself as a wrestler.

The War Games matches were physically taxing. Blanchard jokes (?) that his neck is probably still sore from the matches.

Jim Crockett Jr. loved the first War Games and wanted to run a tour of rematches. Blanchard just looked at him in disbelief since Crockett would not be the one taking the beatings the matches required.

Road Warrior Hawk would come into the cage fresh and anxious after sitting by the sidelines for 15+ minutes. The potatoes were then flying from him.

Doing barbed-wire matches did not scare Blanchard. Tully reveals that cutting the same direction as your muscle will reduce scarring from blade jobs. Blading hurts, in case you think otherwise.

At the end of July, Ric Flair had his famous “Dream Date” angle with Precious that ended with Ron Garvin dressing in drag and beating Flair up at a hotel.

The ring rats were different for the heels than the faces. The Rock and Roll Express had a lot of young women – the heels often got the freaky sex gals. The Horsemen stayed at nicer places than most of the other workers.

Blanchard does not have any heat with Terry Taylor, unlike many others. This leads to a sidebar on the WWF giving the NWA guys goofy gimmicks once Vince got a hold of them.

The main eventers were occasionally asked to headline shows in two cities in one night. This was a little stressful for the talent, but the paychecks helped soften the blow.

Crockett took over the UWF offices in Dallas. JCP wanted the talent to move to Dallas, but most of them stayed in Charlotte. The original office remained open as well.

Ron Garvin beat Ric Flair in September for the NWA World title. The match drew 10,000 fans. A rematch a month later in the same town drew 1,000. Blanchard thinks it has less to do with Garvin personally, and more to do with the fact that fans were conditioned to hate Flair, and seeing him attempt to win his title back is not a hook that worked.

A great number of fans came up to Blanchard, Anderson, Windham and Flair at a recent convention and told Tully “I loved to hate you.” The convention workers were baffled at this phenomenon.

Sting was green when he came into JCP, but he could put on great matches because he listened to what vets like Tully told him to do.

They ran a “War Games” in Vince’s backyard. Tully does not remember any WWF shenanigans to mess with the show. Tully talks more about how nice the hotel was they stayed at than the match.

“Starrcade” took place on PPV, with Vince blocking much of Crockett’s PPV market by strong arming cable companies to run his “Survivor Series” instead. Tully has no recollection of the business side of this day. He thinks Chicago (Starrcade’s host city) sold out though, so they did something right.

The fans booed audibly and cried “bullshit” when a Dusty finish saw the Road Warriors win the NWA tag belts from Arn and Tully, only to have them taken away immediately. There were no problems with this booking according to Blanchard.

They skip all other Starrcade talk, which is kind of disappointing.

The Horsemen were asked for input before Luger was booked to turn on them.

Jim Ross and Tony Schiavone were both excellent at what they did. Gordon Solie was tremendous as well.

Winning a “Bunkhouse Stampede” battle royal did not thrill Blanchard, because his pay day was going to be the same either way.

1987 was the last hurrah for the Horsemen and JCP. 1988 would see business drop off and Arn and Tully jump to the WWF.

Buying two airplanes to fly talent around in was foolish. Plane tickets for commercial flights would be cheaper than paying for pilots and plane upkeep.

The babyfaces all received huge money contracts, while the Horsemen were the ones who were garnering the heat and thus drawing the money. The heels were not properly compensated, and you can point to that as part of why so much talent left JCP.

Final thoughts: Tully was an engaging guest, however with the passage of time he is now mellow to subjects that would have once led to bitter rants. His personal growth is to the detriment of the subject matter. That is not to suggest that this shoot is poor in any manner, just a heads up to what one may suspect.

 

Written by Andrew Lutzke

The grumpy old man of culturecrossfire.com, lover of wrasslin' and true crimes.

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