Wrasslin’ Back in the Day: CWF’s “Battle of the Belts”

NWA Champ Ric Flair tangles with his long time foe Wahoo McDaniel. Plus the Road Warriors fight Stan Hansen and Harley Race!

September 2nd, 1985

From Tampa, Florida’s Sundome with 7,600 fans in attendance.  That’s a healthy amount for the promotion at this point.

Hosted by Gordon Solie, with Mike Graham adding color commentary.

They introduce former wrestlers Buddy Colt and John Heath for their roles as locker room interviewers.

Solie and Graham discuss a hurricane that has just torn through the Florida area. As a result, AWA World champ Rick Martel will not be appearing as scheduled this evening.

Chavo and Hector Guerrero vs. Rip Oliver and the Grappler

Solie talks about how a violent thunderstorm is overhead, and almost on cue the lights flash off over the ring as the power surges.

Given the rock solid line up tonight, it is jarring to see a swath of empty seats right in front of the hard camera.

The Guerreros dominate the early going with quick tags and arm work. The Guerreros execute a tag team row boat to both heels to really demonstrate their control of the situation. Hector is given a cheap shot to turn the tide after more than five minutes of the faces shining.

The technical problems continue as the show briefly goes off the air, treating us to soft jazz music over the “Battle of the Belts” title screen.

Hector spends several minutes being battered, with several teases of working his way to his corner for salvation. Hector winds up being cornered and beaten down for over five minutes. The heels use mostly basic punches and kicks, which is simple but effective.

Chavo finally makes the hot tag, but a four-way donnybrook results instead. The ref is bumped. Grappler loads his boot, but misses his target and cracks his own partner. This allows Hector to score the pin at 15:40.  This was nothing special, but nothing offensive either.

Cocoa Samoa vs. “Hustler” Rip Rogers

Samoa is with Mad Maxxine, an Amazonian woman with a colored mohawk. Rogers has his valet Ms. Brenda with him.  Graham calls Samoa a “youngster”. He looks ragged, so I had to fact check that statement. Samoa was a spry 40 years old here.

Samoa mostly eats Rogers’ assault during the opening minutes, but he doesn’t sell the attack as if it is doing significant damage. Rogers uses a cheap shot, then chucks Samoa to the floor.

Peeking at Cocoa’s bio, his life story is pretty wild. On one side, he opened a business to help give the homeless jobs. On the other hand, he worked as a money collector for a drug dealer and ended up in jail.  He eventually went into the ministry, while on the flip side wound up having 11 children with nine different women.

Rogers pretty much dominates this bout, with Samoa getting in some hope spots, but not much else for the bulk of things. Cocoa mounts his first significant offense via a series of headbutts. Rogers cuts him off. Samoa attempts an abdominal stretch. Miss Brenda sneaks in and whacks Cocoa with her purse. Rogers tries to take advantage of the situation, but Maxine lumbers in and yanks Rogers down, leading to Samoa scoring the pin at the 11-minute mark. This was a match that happened. I have already forgotten it.

The power goes off again, giving me another dose of smooth jazz.

Florida Heavyweight champion Jack Hart vs. Kendall Windham

Percy Pringle (Paul Bearer) is managing the champ. Percy is literally frothing from the mouth as he screams at his charge before the match. Hart is Barry Horowitz. Hart won the title as the culmination of a long losing streak gimmick.

Windham is jumped before the bell. Pringle has his histrionics set to 11 out of a scale of 10. Windham hits a flying forearm to cut off Hart’s early onslaught, but Hart finds himself back in command quickly.  Hart grinds away at Windham with elbows, punches, and some rest holds. Windham is getting nothing in there with a guy who was a joke until only a few weeks before this match went down. Well, I suppose he still was a joke even after winning the title.

Windham finally fires up and gives Hart a flurry of blows. Hart cuts him off. Windham manages to hit a flying crossbody and scores the flash pin at around the 12-minute mark, as Pringle attempted to crawl in the ring to break things up. The fans go nutty for Windham as he becomes the Florida champ as a rookie. The match felt like a training school bout, with the capable vet carrying the youngster through a simple match.

Harley Race cuts a promo. The weather cuts him off and the sound dies. Race FIBS and claims he and Larry Hennig were AWA World tag champs for four straight years. He spends most of his promo that is suppose to be building up the upcoming AWA tag title match by talking about becoming NWA World champ again instead.

Southern Heavyweight Champ Rick Rude vs. Billy Jack Haynes

Haynes has a title on him, but I don’t believe they established what belt it was. Rude has a full beard, which is a look I am not accustomed to seeing on him. He wears it well, actually. Pringle is back out there with Rude, still over acting to the best of his abilities.

The beefy men exchange poses to start. Haynes takes command with an atomic drop, then uses his raw power to hold Rude down in a headlock. The men exchange shoulder blocks, with neither budging. Haynes wins the exchange by luring Rude in for another charge, but then back dropping him instead.

The fight goes to the floor, as both men brawl. Rude gets in some sustained offense once things get back in the ring as he wears at Haynes with forearms and punches. Haynes survives the onslaught for several minutes before he scores a desperation suplex. Rude beats him to their feet, but Rude misses a flying attack, opening things up for Haynes to take over for real.

Haynes onloads with punches and several suplex variations. Billy Jack attempts a press slam, but Pringle trips him. Haynes attacks Pringle for this infraction, allowing Rude to whack him with Pringle’s cane and steal the win at the 14-minute mark.  This was a solid power match. Rude was better than I was expecting at this point in his career and Haynes did well enough on his end.

AWA World tag team champions Hawk and Animal (The Road Warriors) vs. Harley Race and Stan Hansen

This is an AWESOME match on paper. The heels come down to the Olympics theme. Race and Hansen jump the Warriors in the aisle and the FIGHT is on. Hansen drags Animal into the crowd. Race uses the bull rope to choke Hawk.

Race and Hansen both claw Hawk in the eyes to start the action in the ring. Hawk no sells a head butt from Race. The match turns into a four way brawl once more. Hansen and Hawk fight into the stands as chairs fly. BEEF. MUSCLES. REAL MEN! WRASSLIN’!

The heels take turns working over Hawk back in the ring. Hansen appears to have dead weighted Hawk on a slam. Hawk struggled to execute the move as if he was trying to pick up Andre the Giant. Animal tries to slow things down as he locks Hansen in an arm bar. Another four-way skirmish breaks out briefly. Hansen suplexes Hawk as the battle of alphas continues.

Hawk grabs Race by the throat, picks him up and tosses him backwards. Race isn’t used to being ragdolled. Hansen gets back in and piledrives Hawk. Hawk doesn’t dare to no sell that!

Race and Animal slow things down a bit as Animal again tries a bit of arm work. Race no sells some head butts from Hawk. This leads to another four-way brawl and everyone is counted out at the ten-minute mark.

As the chaos continues, CWF decides to go to commercial. NOOOOOOO! When they come back, the Warriors are using chairs to try and subdue their opponents. Animal wraps Hansen’s bull rope around his neck as they fight in the aisle. We cut away from the fight for a promo from Ric Flair. This is perhaps the first time I have ever been disappointed to hear Flair speak.

I loved seeing the Warriors in a situation where they were paired against men who were as crazed and tough as the Warriors themselves were.  This was a fun, wild, brawl!

Frankie Lane vs. Nick Bockwinkel

Bockwinkel has some bizarre music for his entrance. It sounds like some outer space beat. There are lyrics, but I can’t really make it out. The crowd is not impressed with Rick Martel being replaced by Lane. I assume they did not make any announcement to the fans that Martel was out. The ring announcer declares this is an AWA World title match and announces Bockwinkel as the champ. Solie corrects him thankfully.

Bockwinkel picks apart his opponent with some big forearms. Lane gets some token offense in, but Bockwinkel cuts him off. Lane tries a crossbody, but Bockwinkel apparently catches him with a forearm in mid air as Lane crashes in what looks like a botch. That is enough for the pin at the fourminute mark. Just a squash.

NWA World Champion Ric Flair vs. “Chief” Wahoo McDaniel (Best 2 out of 3 Falls)

The ring announcer blows his second straight match introduction as he announces Flair as the National World Alliance champ. There is 45 minutes left in the broadcast, so this match is apparently going to run a long time. That is a little surprising, since Wahoo is not exactly a youngster at this point.

Flair bleeds almost right away as a recent blade job is reopened. The men exchange chops as you would expect. Flair cranks on a front facelock to give Wahoo a chance to catch some early wind. Flair uses the ropes to cheat in order to turn a rest hold into a spot that gives him some easy heat. Flair and the ref get into it over the rope usage and Flair is shoved to the thrill of the crowd. McDaniel is annoyed by Flair cheating and unleashes a flurry of chops. Flair bails to regroup.

Wahoo works over Flair’s leg. This works psychologically, while at the same time allows the match to be paced slowly as the men focus on a close knit struggle.

Flair uses the ropes for leverage again, so a frustrated McDaniel fights his way from the bottom by chopping at Flair’s head. Flair works Wahoo’s arm in multiple ways, keeping the pace very deliberate. Wahoo screams in agony.

Wahoo overcomes all the physical toll that Flair has unleashed and locks the champ in a sleeper. Flair goes down and is pinned at the 24-minute mark. The sweat drenched Wahoo looks old. Who insisted this go 45 minutes? Wahoo would have probably been more up for a 20 minute fight, instead of this war of attrition.

A now desperate Flair doubles down his focus on attacking Wahoo’s leg. After some stomping and twisting of the limb, Flair locks in a figure-four.  Wahoo fights to turn the move over and remove the pressure from his leg.

Flair continues his assault, keeping McDaniel down on the mat with knee drops and other impact moves. Wahoo fights back, as the ref is bumped. The men fight to the floor, where Wahoo’s forehead is introduced to the corner post. The dazed McDaniel is dragged in the ring and pinned at the 40-minute mark. Flair uses a handful of tights for good measure.

McDaniel reveals a crimson mask. Something happens in the crowd at the start of the final fall as everyone looks away from the ring to watch the bleachers.

Wahoo gets aggressive, perhaps knowing his blood loss will negatively affect his energy reserves when he needs them the most in this final stage of battle. Flair and McDaniel go to the floor, where Flair is busted open further with a blow to the corner post. A rejuvenated McDaniel locks the sleeper back on, hoping lightning will strike again. Flair kicks off the corner and he falls on McDaniel, still locked in the hold. Flair winds up getting the 3-count before Wahoo even realizes he was being pinned.

They did a good job here of trying to incorporate rest spots for McDaniel into the flow of the bout. These two had tons of matches in the past and the chemistry was still there. Wahoo probably should have just relented to a shorter match though and admitted defeat to Father Time.

Final thoughts: The Road Warriors brawl is worth going out of your way to see. Flair and Wahoo is good as well, but they’ve had better matches.

Thanks for reading!  Feel free to follow me on Twitter to keep up with my wrasslin’ research and reviews. https://twitter.com/Brody1982

 

Written by Andrew Lutzke

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