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cactus

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  1. Been looking for this match forever. Does anyone know where I can watch it?
  2. cactus

    Cactus Watches Every Starrcade

    Yeah, the presentation is one of the things that stuck out to me. It's miles ahead of anything that WWF was doing. They even had pyro before WWF ran their first Wrestlemania! Two more shows down! NWA Starrcade 1985: The Gathering NWA Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Title Tournament Final Match Sam Houston vs Krusher Kruschev Houston might still be rather green, but the girls in the audience adore him and he can coast through his matches using his quick offense to cover up for any inexperience that he has at this point. Although Kruschev might not make a convincing Russian because of his loud Minnesotan accent, he carried the workload here and brought a number of cool power spots to the table. He nearly drops Sam on his head when he flapjacks him. Houston thought he won this one when he lands his bulldog finisher, but Krusher has his leg on the rope. Sam goes to celebrate, giving Krusher a chance to nail a big lariat for the win. Sam had his leg on the rope, but the referee wasn't in a position to see it. This was a decent big man vs little man contest to kick things off, with Sam having to use his brains and speed to try and outsmart Krushchev. ★★★ Mexican Death Match Abdullah The Butcher (w/Paul Jones) vs Manny Fernandez To win this match, you had to retrieve the sombrero from the top of the pole set up on the ring post. Both guys bleed gushers and take some rather big bumps from the top rope when they were attempting to grab the sombrero. Manny uses his cowboy boots and belt to inflict damage. You aren't going to get much out of Abdullah, but I was surprised to see how many bumps he took during this. Manny even lands a monkey flip on him! It wasn't pretty by any means, but it was still an impressive sight. I was expecting another stinker much like the one Abi had with Carlos Colon at the first-ever Starrcade, but this was a fun little spectacle that had all the chaos you would expect to find in a chaotic Puerto Rican bloodbath. ★★★½ Bullrope Match Black Bart (w/JJ Dillon) vs Ron Bass Bullrope Match JJ Dillon vs Ron Bass The stipulation is that if Bass is able to beat Black Bart, he'll then get a five-minute match with JJ Dillion. Ron Bass might share the same gimmick as Stan Hansen, but he's missing the charisma and talents that made Hansen so brilliant. He doesn't quite stink up the place, but he's rather dull and it takes a while for the fans to really get behind him. The match with Bart is fine. We get plenty of blood from all parties. The sound that the bull rope made as it bounced off the wrestler's hand was satisfying and Bart is able to sell well. Bart predictably loses and it's Dillon's turn to face Bass. Dillon hams it up big time as he tries to back away from Bass. Bass eventually puts the hurt on Dillon, which leads to Dillon getting juice. Dillon's strikes look like shit, but that makes sense seeing as he isn't a wrestler. The referee goes down and Bart returns to give Bass a piledriver. Dillon gets the shit beaten out of him, but gets some heat back by eventually pinning Bass. This was a fun bit of business overall, even if I did prefer the Dillon vs Bass 'match' over the match between two actual wrestlers! ★★½ NWA National Heavyweight Title Match Terry Taylor (c) vs Buddy Landel (w/JJ Dillon) I never quite got why they had Buddy Landel doing Flair's gimmick when they were in the same promotion. Landel is a good hand, but having the same gimmick just shows that Flair is leagues ahead of Landel. After two bloody brawls on the PPV version of this show, it made sense for them to send out a slower-paced match to calm the fans down a bit. This was technically sound, if not a touch too dry at times. Both guy's stuff looked crisp. Much like Sam Houston earlier in the show, Taylor is loved by the women in attendance. A bandaged-up JJ Dillon comes down to support his man and he eventually helps him get the win. Taylor goes for his signature superplex, but Dillon tugs on Taylor's leg, causing Landel to land onto of Taylor for the three count. ★★½ The Barbarian (w/Paul Jones) vs Superstar Billy Graham Good news: Graham's ditched his karate get-up and is back in the tie-dye. Bad news: we still have to see him wrestle. Truth be told, he wasn't awful here. He's still very charismatic, has great facials and he's a decent enough seller that he gets the fans into this. They did an arm-wrestling match before the actual match. Graham nearly lost, but makes a recovery and wins the arm wrestling. Jones attacks Graham as soon as he wins and the wrestling match starts. Graham gets beaten down and starts bleeding a lot. They are not able to do too much as Graham is simply too large for Barbarian to hit any big power spots on. Graham has Barbarian beat in a submission, but Jones interferes before his man submits. This was basic stuff, but the fans seemed to enjoy this. ★½ NWA National Tag Team Title Match The Minnesota Wrecking Crew (Arn Anderson & Ole Anderson) (c) vs Billy Jack Haynes & Wahoo McDaniel This felt like a vehicle for Billy Jack Haynes to get over and there's no better team to make you look good than Arn & Ole. BJH had good size, a great look and he showed a lot of charisma, even if his actual in-ring stuff wasn't amazing by any means. Much like last year, Wahoo McDaniel looks as if he'd rather be elsewhere. I thought Arn's performance here was standout. He'd back away like a chickenshit from the faces, and everything he did looked flawless. He gets slapped down by McDaniel, but he has the wherewithal to hook his legs around McDaniel's leg, tripping him as he fell. Ole is starting to move around like an old man, but he can still go and he's obviously got a great brain for tag psychology. The Andersons use a lot of double-team moves and look polished as a team already. Perhaps in an effort to protect BJH, McDaniel eats the pinfall lose after he is tripped by Ole and illegally held down as Arn makes the pin. ★★★ NWA United States Heavyweight Title I Quit Steel Cage Match Tully Blanchard (w/Baby Doll) (c) vs Magnum TA There's no pussyfooting around at the start of the match, as they start wailing at each other as soon as the bell rings. Tully and Magnum sell their arses off and bleed buckets. Baby Doll adds a lot to Tully's act, with her making noise whenever her man is in danger. The finish sees Tully trying to take out TA's eye with a shard from a broken wooden chair. They have a big struggle before Magnum turns the tables on Tully and jams the shard into Tully's forehead, causing him to forfeit. With a strong opening and a memorable finish, I felt the middle portion of this match let this one down for me. It felt like they are losing steam. Anyways, this wasn't an all-time great match for me, but it's still a damn fine brawl. ★★★★ Tag Team Street Fight Jimmy Valiant & Miss Atlanta Lively (w/Big Mama) vs. The Midnight Express (Bobby Eaton & Dennis Condrey) (w/Jim Cornette) Miss Atlanta Lively is Ron Garvin in drag. I'm sure there's a reason why he is dressing as a woman, but it was never explained on commentary. This was a big brawl that felt more wacky than hellish. Imagine a WWF Hardcore title match put in a 1985 NWA ring with plenty of blood and that's exactly what this was. The Midnight Express are decked out in tuxedos for some reason, but it makes for quite a visual when they are bleeding all over their suits. They start to strip Garvin, but Valiant makes the save. Beautiful Bobby takes a nasty bump on the concrete when Jimmy Valiant biel throws on the outside. He got some serious air and that had to hurt. I've seen a lot worse matches than this, but The Midnight Express deserved a better showing for their Starrcade debut. ★ NWA World Tag Team Title Steel Cage Match The Russians (Ivan Koloff & Nikita Koloff) (w/Krusher Kruschev) (c) vs. The Rock 'n' Roll Express (Ricky Morton & Robert Gibson) (w/Don Kernodle) I was looking forward to this match until I realized that this was a cage match that required tags! The heels also try to cheat behind the referee's back despite there being no disqualifications. What is the point of that?! Once you are able to get over that, this match is rather enjoyable. It's speed versus strength here, with Gibson and Morton bettering the heels during their shine by using a lot of fast-paced maneuvers. The Russians keep things simple and do a good job at cutting off their opponents. Nikita looks like a total star in the making here, with Ivan being the veteran who is here to help out the more inexperienced Nikita. Gibson works the face in peril segment this time around. He does a good job at it. He sells well and takes some nasty bumps into the cage. The crowd absolutely loves the Rock 'n' Roll Express and they erupt when they finally get the win. ★★★¼ NWA World Heavyweight Title Match Ric Flair (c) vs. Dusty Rhodes This was so much better than the previous year's match. They are given more time, and they work this at a slower and more methodical pace. The leg work here is fantastic and it starts as soon as a weak kick from Flair to Dusty's banged-up knee sends him hurling himself to the outside to protect himself. Dusty's just revealed a massive bullseye and Flair sets out on damaging his leg some more. Dusty tries to defend himself by going after Flair's leg and the match soon becomes a battle to see who can lock on the Figure 4 first. If you ever find yourself needing an example of Dusty Rhodes being the most charismatic wrestler of all time, just watch him psych himself up to survive the Figure 4 by doing a little shuffle before trying to reverse the hold. The referee soon gets knocked down and the Anderson boys run in to help out Flair. They lay Dusty out as another referee rushes to the ring. Flair gets a near fall on Dusty, but Dusty then rolls Flair up for the win. We get a feel-good ending to the show as the faces come out to celebrate with the new champ. The good times don't last as the original referee overrides the pinfall decision and that Dusty actually won by DQ, meaning Flair keeps the title. Even with the weak Dusty Finish, this was still leagues better than last year's main event. ★★★½ NWA Starrcade 1986: Night Of The Skywalkers Nelson Royal & Tim Horner vs Don Kernodle & Rocky Kernodle Royal might be 50, but he can still go and keep up with his younger opponents. Don Kernodle is only 36 here, but he looks like he's Royal's age! Horner didn't show too much in the way of charisma, but everything he did during this match looked crisp. We got plenty of leap-frogs, dropdowns, and near-falls in this exciting opener. The match lasts just over seven minutes and it ends when Horner counters an O'Connor roll into a pin of his own. There wasn't much of a story being told, but this did a good job of warming up the crowd for bigger matches to come. ★★¾ Brad Armstrong vs Jimmy Garvin (w/Precious) I can't say I'm too familiar with either guy's work, but they impressed me here. With his phenomenal Sharp Dressed Man entrance, buckets of charisma, and Precious on his arm, Garvin looked like a rockstar here. I've always heard that Brad Armstrong had a reputation of being a wrestler's wrestler and I can saw why from this match. His fundamentals are rock-solid and every movement he makes feels calculated. Perhaps in an effort to not burn out the crowd, they kept this simple with lengthy holds dominating the action. This never felt boring as they keep things interesting by having Garvin constantly cheat to keep Armstrong under control. He'd use his valet to make a distraction and pull Armstrong's hair, all while bad-mouthing the crowd. This has a 15-minute time limit, and the speed picks up once both men realize there are only 3 minutes left on the clock. Both men get a near-fall on a small package. The bell rings just as Garvin misses a top rope move, but the wrestlers carrying on brawling. There's a lot of urgency here and the time limit finish never felt telegraphed. ★★★½ Baron von Raschke & Hector Guerrero vs Shaska Whatley & The Barbarian Talk about odd pairing tag teams! Both teams look as if they were randomly generated. Hector is incredibly over with the crowd and hits a bunch of high-flying moves to Barbarian during his shine. We see the first-ever dive in Starrcade history as Guerrero launches himself onto Barbarian. Barbarian soon gets control of his quick opponent and we get a brief face-in-peril segment before he's able to make the tag to Baron von Raschke. Raschke is very washed-up by this point. He was never known as a good in-ring worker, but he moves around like an old man here. Raschke's claw finish is still over as rover though. Barbarian and Guerrero looked like they had pretty decent chemistry together and I think this would have been much better if this match was singles match between them, but what we got instead was rather inoffensive. ★★ NWA United States Tag Team Title No Disqualification Match The Russians (Ivan Koloff & Krusher Kruschev) (c) vs The Kansas Jayhawks (Bobby Jaggers & Dutch Mantel) This is No DQ, but don't expect them to bring out the furniture. The rule is mainly just in place so these guys can beat the piss out of each other without them burying the referee. Looking at all the guys in this, it should come as no surprise that the action here was super rugged. All the striking and mat-wrestling here was Clint Eastwood level of manly. Everyone uses quick tags and the pace is quick throughout. The heels gain control after Kruschev trips a fired-up Mantel and Koloff lands a knee. Koloff then throws him outside and drops his leg over the barricade. Mantel counters a double clothesline attempt and knocks both his opponents on their arses, before making the hot tag to Jaggers. All chaos breaks loose as all four guys brawl in the ring. Jaggers brings his whip into the ring and whips both men. Kruschev escapes the ring and grabs his chain and nails a distracted Jaggers with it to end the match. ★★¾ Indian Strap Match Wahoo McDaniel vs Rick Rude (w/Paul Jones) Wahoo has put on a lot of weight, but he's at least looking like he's actually having a good time out there. There isn't much in the way of workrate here. We instead get a match that full of antics, such as Rude begging off his opponent and the two getting in a tug of war. To gain victory here, you have to touch all four corners in a conceptive order. They do a decent job of milking the drama as they drag their opponent's downed body with them as they try and touch all corners. Rude even tries to tie Wahoo up. Just as Wahoo is approaching his forth and final corner, Paul Jones gets on the apron to cause a distraction. Rude forearms Wahoo from behind, but inadvertently causes him to crash into corner, Wahoo wins, but Jones and Rude carry on their attack. Hector Guerrero and Baron Von Raschke come to Wahoo's aid and make the save. If this didn't have Rude in there, this would have been the shits. ★½ NWA Central States Heavyweight Title Match Sam Houston (c) vs Bill Dundee Sam Houston's back and he's looks like he's put on some muscle since we last saw him at Starrcade '85. He looks more rugged and his ring work feels more polished. It certainly helps that Sam's in there with a seasoned vet like Dundee. The wrestling here might be fairly rudimentary, but Dundee takes some decent bumps during this match. The highlight of this would have to be when Dundee gets atomic dropped on the outside and he takes a big bump over the barricade, landing right on his face. Dundee goes after Sam's leg, but Sam is able to fight back with a nice flurry of punches. The referee takes a bump and Dundee attacks Sam with his own boot. He goes for the cover, but the referee saw Dundee use the boot and disqualifies him. I'm fine with the DQ finish, but the match itself never felt like it got into second gear. Dundee's performance here was very good at least. ★★ Hair Vs. Hair Match Jimmy Valiant (w/Big Mama) vs Paul Jones (w/Manny Fernandez) Manny Fernandez is put into a shark cage before the match to stop him from interfering. He refuses at first, but the face locker room soon pours out and forces him into the cage. This is Big Mama's hair vs Paul Jones's hair, as Paul Jones had previously cut Valiant's hair. Jones is bad at throwing strikes. Not just in a 'non-wrestler trying to fight' way, one of his punches misses Valiant by nearly half a foot. He has an object hidden in his tights and uses it to get a near-fall. Valiant has Jones nearly out in a sleeper hold, but Jones reaches in to his tights to grab his weapon again. Valiant notices this and uses Jones's own weapon against him. Much like the match these two had a few years prior, this is more gaga. ¾★ Louisville Street Fight Big Bubba Rogers (w/Jim Cornette) vs Ronnie Garvin Rogers is very young and inexperienced, so they kept this one simple and the match is much better for it. Garvin keeps going for strikes and they do a lot of damage whenever he lands one. Rogers has his big man selling down to a tee, staggering all over the place whenever Garvin gets a shot in. Rogers being finally knocked off his feet got a massive pop. Garvin carries on punishing Rogers by ripping his shirt and throwing someone's drink into his face. He lands a rough looking piledriver on Rogers. Cornette takes a swing at Garvin's head with his racket and both men are out cold. The referee counts them down for a ten-count, but doesn't call for the bell as this match must have a winner. The referee begins his count again, but Cornette once again nails Garvin with his racket. Rogers gets up, but Garvin was unable to get up in time. ★★½ NWA World Television Title First Blood Match Dusty Rhodes (c) vs. Tully Blanchard (w/JJ Dillon) I've seen a few First Blood matches in my time, but I've never seen one with psychology as sound as this one. Dusty gives JJ one singular elbow and it cuts him up instantly, so Tully spends the rest of the match trying to dodge every single strike. One strike could cut him open and end the match. JJ also has a towel and a tub of vaseline at his disposal to aid his man. I like how neither man wasted time going for holds, as that's not going to help you in a match like this. Dusty also shows us what a charismatic man he was by sending the crowd into a frenzy by doing the smallest of jives. The referee gets knocked down and Tully gets busted open. JJ helps Tully hide his cut and slips him a weapon. Dusty is cut open and he's the first man that the referee when he comes to, so he awards Tully the victory. This had a smart finish, and they told a decent story without having to use many big spots. ★★★¼ Scaffold Tag Team Match The Road Warriors (Road Warrior Animal & Road Warrior Hawk) (w/Paul Ellering) vs The Midnight Express (Bobby Eaton & Dennis Condrey) (w/Big Bubba Rogers & Jim Cornette) You got the feeling that someone genuinely might die as the scaffold is a good 25 feet above the ring and at least two people are going to fall off it. I can see why they don't do these matches anymore. There is only so much you can do with four men fighting on a narrow walkway, but they do what they can. The Midnight Express throws powder into the eyes of both Hawk and Animal to gain an early advantage. The Road Warriors are too strong to be kept down for long and they soon hulk up. After an impressive sequence that saw both Condrey and Eaton use the rungs of the scaffold as monkey bars, they both fall fairly safely to the ring. The post-match sees an irate Cornette trying to attack Ellering. This fails and he is chased up to the top of the scaffold. He falls and ends up fucking both his knees up in the process for real. Big Bubba was meant to catch him, but he was in the wrong place. I bet Cornette was pissed off with him for that. This wasn't much of a wrestling match, but it was a hell of a spectacle. ★★ NWA World Tag Team Title Steel Cage Match The Rock 'n' Roll Express (Ricky Morton & Robert Gibson) (c) vs The Minnesota Wrecking Crew (Arn Anderson & Ole Anderson) Seeing tags and rules being followed in a cage match still grinds my gears, but the work here is so exceptional that I can give it a pass. It also helped matters how both Arn and Ole wrestled this. Instead of waiting for the referee to turn his back so they can cheat, they would do this all the time as there's no risk of getting disqualified. The Russians waiting for the right moment to bend the rules during last year's cage match felt illogical and Arn and Ole worked this much more intelligently. We get two face-in-peril segments. The first one would see Gibson get his leg worked over before he's able to tag in Morton. The Andersons bust Morton open before going to town on his arm. The Anderson's assault is brutal and they feel like they are completely in sync with one another. Morton's FIP goes on for a while and you begin to wonder if he's ever going to get the hot tag as the Andersons cut him off every time. Arn gets a very close call after nailing Morton with one of the best spinebusters I've ever seen. Gibson soon has had enough of the heels taking advantage and he rushes in to clear house. He dropkicks Morton's back as he's being hoisted up in the air for the scoop slam and the momentum is enough to keep Ole down for the count. ★★★★½ NWA World Heavyweight Title Match Ric Flair (c) vs Nikita Koloff This had a super interesting dynamic, as you would think anyone going against a 'Russian' in the US in 1986 is going to be a babyface, but Flair is still the Nature Boy after all and he works this match like an outmatched heel. It's rather progressive for a wrestling company to have a Russian babyface during the Cold War, even if said Russian is from Minnesota! The first exchanges establish Koloff's power and that Flair's chops aren't much of a weapon as Koloff just brushes them off. Flair has to escape the ring to take a breather and think up another game plan. He soon goes for Koloff's leg in an attempt to soften him up for the Figure Four. Flair busts open his opponent by bashing his head into the scaffold. Flair makes the mistake of chopping Koloff again and all this does is hype him up into making a comeback. Two referees end up getting taken out and the first referee calls this one after Koloff shoves him. The non-finish was a bit shit, but both face and heel locker rooms rushing out to stop the brawl made for quite a visual. Koloff did a good job at portraying a no-nonsense powerhouse, even if this was still a Flair carry job. ★★★½
  3. I'm in need of a break from the GME project, so I'm going to try and watch every Starrcade and maybe some of the other WCW PPVs when I get to them. I've seen most of the high-end JCP/WCW matches and a few full shows here and there, but a lot of this stuff is a blind spot for me. I'll cover the shows in the same way that I did in the Cactus Watches Every Wrestlemania thread (which is currently on hiatus as the more modern Wrestlemanias are a massive chore to sit through). Seeing as there were only 18 Starrcade events and all bar one of them run under 3 hours, I imagine this will be a much easier watch than having to sit through all of the Wrestlemanias. NWA Starrcade 1983: A Flare For The Gold Bugsy McGraw & Rufus R. Jones vs. The Assassins (Assassin #1 & Assassin #2) (w/Paul Jones) McGraw opens this match and gets his shine. Jones gets tagged in and hits a soulful flurry that was half Rocky Johnson, Half-Giant Baba. One of the Assassin tries to escape an arm wrench by punching Jones, but it's not effective as Jones' skull is thick, I guess. Bit racist, mate. Both faces aren't the best strikers, but every shot had a lot of personalities and it felt like their own. The Assassins are able to sneak a win by getting a schoolboy with a handful of tights. What we got here was very rudimentary, but that's to be expected with an opener from this era. The crowd seemed to love what they got served and it didn't go on for too long. ★½ Kevin Sullivan & Mark Lewin (w/Gary Hart) vs Johnny Weaver & Scott McGhee The younger Sullivan and McGhee bring the speed and youthful energy, while Weaver and Lewin feel a lot more old school. McGhee lands a neat counter early on. Weaver hits a bulldog, but he is countered on his second attempt. Lewin and Sullivan work over Weaver and score an underhanded win that comes out of nowhere, but all hell breaks loose in the afterbirth. Gary Harts hands Lewin a weapon. McGhee hits a beautiful running dropkick on Hart before he ends up bleed a gusher after he's hit with the weapon. Angelo Mosca runs in to save the faces but ends up getting juice on his arm. ★★ Abdullah The Butcher vs Carlos Colon This match-up was banned in Puerto Rico according to the commentary, which isn't true as these two were regular foes there. There's not much to talk about here, but what were you really expecting? Abdullah straight away pulls a weapon out of his pants and this turns into a bloody garbage brawl. The referee gets taken out and Colon starts to take charge. He has Abdullah in the Figure Four, but Hugo Savinovich comes down and costs Colon the match. Blood can sometimes help a good match become great, but that wasn't the case here. Some of the blood splattering shots to the head might have been disgusting, but the match itself was a dull affair. ¼★ Bob Orton Jr. & Dick Slater vs Mark Youngblood & Wahoo McDaniel Every time I see a Bob Orton Jr. match, he always ends up impressing me with his Southern style of wrestling. Youngblood is here to be the pretty boy babyface who gets worked over by the heels until it's time to make the hot tag to Wahoo. Wahoo is looking rather washed up here, but he's only here to take the hot tag and land some weak-looking chops, so he doesn't stink up the match at all. A beautifully executed float-over superplex is enough for the heels to take the victory. After the bell, the heels try to break Wahoo's arm. Youngblood & Wahoo were very over with the crowd, so this had quite a lot of heat. This got a lot of time to breathe, with the total match time clocking in at just over 13 minutes and it's very well-paced throughout. ★★★ NWA Television Title Vs. Mask Match The Great Kabuki (w/Gary Hart) (c) vs Charlie Brown For those who are somehow unaware, Charlie Brown is Jimmy Valiant under an obvious hood. He was good here, with his comeback flurries always having plenty of pizzazz and charm. I wish I could say good things about Kabuki, but he was a bore here. He'd always go back to locking on the claw whenever the match would build up some steam, killing the momentum in its tracks. Just when you think he was about to hit a cool top rope move, he lands on his feet and goes right back to the dreaded claw hold. I can see why wrestling purists hated Jimmy Valiant at the time, but he's got some much charisma that he could get even non-wrestling fans behind him. ★★ Dog Collar Match Roddy Piper vs Greg Valentine In this legendary blow-off match, Valentine is the US champion, but it's not on the line here. These two beat the shit out of each other in this bloody chain match. Piper is going into this with an ear injury and Valentine exploits it. Piper gets juice from the ear and expertly sells it by wobbling all over the place. How the hell do you get blood from an ear?! The image of Valentine's contorted face being wrenched against the chain will stick with me for a long time. After a failed dive from the second rope, Piper pummels Valentine and gets the victory. Considering this is regarded as one of the best ever matches under the NWA banner, I do wish I liked this more than I did. Still, it's a brutal display of violence with convincing performances from both Valentine and Piper. ★★★★ NWA World Tag Team Title Match (Special Referee: Angelo Mosca) The Brisco Brothers (Jack Brisco & Jerry Brisco) (c) vs Jay Youngblood & Ricky Steamboat This was two salty shooters taking on two white-meat babyface heartthrobs. I've never seen a wrestler move around the ring as naturally as Steamboat does. He teases his chop early on, but Jack is able to avoid it. Steamboat gets a lot of shine on both brothers and this forces them to be more cautious. Youngblood's stuff doesn't quite look as crisp as Steamboat's, but he's a great mat worker. The Brisco cuts off Steamboat with strikes and works over him. Steamboat escapes a short arm scissors by deadlifting his opponent. That spot will always be impressive! Jerry Brisco starts arguing with Angel Mosca about his counting and gets shoved for his troubles and this begins the heel's downfall. After a flurry of double team moves, Steamboat & Youngblood win the straps. This was a great mesh of different styles. This was also a fantastic showcase for Steamboat, who looked like the best wrestler in the world during this title match. ★★★¾ NWA World Heavyweight Title Steel Cage Match (Special Referee: Gene Kiniski) Harley Race (c) vs Ric Flair I wish this clicked with me more. This felt like they couldn't decide whether they wanted to do an explosive bloody brawl or a slow-burner technical bout, so they decided to meet in the middle and the result is a match that is lacking in urgency. The individual performances of both Flair and Race were solid, even if this was a drag to sit through. The most interesting part of this is the increasing tension between Race and guest referee Gene Kiniski. Kiniski has to physically pull Race from Flair. This might be No DQ, but Kiniski still wants Race to fight with honor! I know a lot of people thought Kiniski did a terrible job as a referee, but I thought he added to the match. The finish of this match is quite legendary, with Flair landing a flying body press from the top rope to become NWA champion once again. It's no wonder he kept attempting that move for the rest of his career, even if it usually resulted in him being slammed from the top rope most of the time. It might not work most of the time, but he won the world title with that move, so it's worth the risk! The faces storm the ring and celebrate with their new champion. It's a feel-good ending, even if the match left me cold. ★★½ NWA Starrcade 1984: The Million Dollar Challenge NWA World Junior Heavyweight Title Match Mike Davis (c) vs Denny Brown Although it's clear that the Junior belt wasn't thought of as much, these two went out there and put on a solid opener that was quick and had plenty of work rate. Brown was working as the plucky babyface challenger, but I heard plenty of boos for him as he was announced. He didn't look too good here. He ends up botching a spot where he was supposed to fall to the outside after Davis does a drop-down. Davis hits Brown with a bridging back suplex, but Brown gets his shoulder up at 2. Davis doesn't realize that his own shoulders are pinned to the mat and Brown wins this one and the belt. I enjoyed this match for what it was, but not the finish. It did Brown no favors. He might have won the title, but it looked like a total fluke. ★★ Brian Adias vs Mr. Ito Everything about Mr. Ito's presentation feels vaguely racist. He's a mysterious, cheating Japanese journeyman who is only here to do the job for Brian Adias. Adias is a good-looking dude who seems like he knows how to work, so it's surprising that he didn't go on to do bigger things. He's barely six feet tall, so that might have held him back. Anyways, this was a quick three-minute squash. Adias catches Ito in an Airplane Spin that actually looks quite devastating. ★★ NWA Florida Heavyweight Title Match Jesse Barr (c) vs Mike Graham I've always heard that Mike Graham wasn't great in-ring, but he impressed me here. He showed a lot of fire when he was making his comebacks. This featured a lot of lengthy holds, but Graham sold them by grimacing and groaning all over the place. It's a small touch that can make a basic hold entertaining. Barr keeps cheating by pulling Graham's hair and using the ropes for leverage. Barr's facial expressions and acting did feel rather over-the-top whenever the referee would confront him about cheating. This might not be to everyone's taste, as it was quite slow and there aren't many high spots, but I thought this was a well-wrestled bout that told a good story. ★★★ Elimination Tag Team Match Buzz Tyler & The Assassin #1 vs The Zambuie Express (Elijah Akeem & Kareem Muhammad) (w/Paul Jones) This was a mess. One of the members of the Zambuie Express and Buzz Tyler brawl on the outside and are counted out. The announcers don't acknowledge this as the match continues. Assassin #1 and the other member of the Zambuie Express carrying on brawling in the ring until Assassin #1 gets the pin. The announcer seem to think that this was the first elimination. The wrestlers leave the ring as the announcers finally figure out that the match is over. The elimination stipulation added nothing to the match. Buzz Tyler might have looked like shit, but his brawling was decent and he did a good job of firing up the crowd. ¼★ NWA Mid-Atlantic Brass Knuckles Title Match Black Bart (w/JJ Dillon) (c) vs Manny Fernandez Fernandez coming out to Michael Jackson's Beat It made him look like an old man who was desperately trying to be cool with the kids, despite the fact that he was only in his 30s at this point! The Brass Knuckles title only lasted a few years and every match was fought under no disqualifications rules. Think of it as the Hardcore title before the Hardcore title existed! This was a run-of-the-mill brawl, with Black Bart getting juice. This wasn't exactly Funk vs Lawler, but it got the job done. JJ Dillion tries to throw Bart his bull rope, but this gave Fernandez enough time to sneak a roll-up and win the match. ★¾ Loser Leaves Town Tuxedo Street Fight Jimmy Valiant (w/The Assassin #1) vs Paul Jones (w/Elijah Akeem) Valiant ties Jones to the ropes with his own tie and starts choking him. With his big and goofy facial expressions, Jones sold his beating well. Valiant soon starts to strip Jones from his tuxedo as the commentators worry about seeing too much of Jones. Jones even bleeds a gusher as Valiant continues to pummel him. After some outside interference, Jones is able to blindside Valiant and Valiant is forced to leave town. I didn't hate this. This might have been pure ga-ga, but the crowd ate this up and were going insane for Jimmy Valiant. ★ NWA Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Title Match Ron Bass (w/JJ Dillon) (c) vs Dick Slater This wasn't good. I watched it about 12 hours ago and I can't remember hardly anything about it. This was more meat and potatoes brawling. JJ Dillon once again tries to get involved, but Slater puts a stop to him. A fired-up Slater ends up shoving the referee and gets himself disqualified. He hits a big scoop slam and leg drop combination and goes for the cover, but the referee comes around and awards the victory to Bass. A babyface losing because of their own stupidity is never a good look. ★ Keith Larson & Ole Anderson (w/Don Kernodle) vs The Russians (Ivan Koloff & Nikita Koloff) The Russians put Don Kernodle on the shelf, so the faces are out for revenge in this grudge match. They jumpstart this by attacking both the Koloffs. The faces get a ton of shine and utilize a lot of quick tags. The heels are great at doing all the stoogey selling and showing the fans that they are getting their asses kicked without garnering sympathy for themselves. Ole Anderson is soon isolated by The Russians and they begin a long face-in-peril segment, with Anderson spending a lot of time in a bearhug, All chaos breaks loose once Anderson tags in Larson. Don Kernodle gets shoved to the floor and this gets a lot of heat for the heels. During all of the carnage, Nikita blasts Larson with his chain and gets the victory. Most of the action here was rather basic, but the tag team psychology was stellar and the crowd loved every minute of this, so it's well worth your time. ★★★¼ NWA Television Title Match Tully Blanchard (c) vs Ricky Steamboat Tully can lose his title on a DQ or count-out loss, so he's forced to try and work this one straight. Steamboat's coming into this with damaged ribs and he sells his injury masterfully. After a quick feeling out, Steamboat starts to feel gassed, and Tully senses this and starts stalking Steamboat like a snake. Tully has concealed weapon in his trunks and he teases using it. He finally does when Steamboat is attempting a sunset flip. Steamboat gets nailed with the unknown weapon and Tully steals a win. The story-telling here was fantastic and they didn't have to have to hammer everything into the audience's heads to make their point. This had a frantic pace and a hell of a lot of work rate, with many near-falls in the finishing stretch. My only complaint is that I wished they wrestled for longer, as this felt that it ended just as it was getting started. I could easily watch them go at it for another ten minutes and not get bored. ★★★★ NWA United States Heavyweight Title Match Wahoo McDaniel (c) vs Superstar Billy Graham This was a match between two washed-up legends. Graham is doing his karate gimmick and it's aged as well as milk. Seeing him come down to the ring to Kung Fu Fighting is so fucking corny, especially when he's a karate practitioner. He's so muscular here, he's downright repulsive-looking when he poses. Graham's finish during this period is a full nelson, which doesn't exactly fit into his whole karate schtick. He manages to lock it on, but McDaniel escapes and wins with a weak-looking chop. McDaniel looked as if he didn't want to be there. This was kept mercifully short, but could they not find two better workers to fight for one of the more important championships? ½★ NWA World Heavyweight Title Match (Special Referee: Joe Frazier) Ric Flair (c) vs Dusty Rhodes The best thing about pro-wrestling being scripted is that you don't usually have to deal with bullshit real sport 'finishes', that's why the finish here completely sucked. As they had Joe Frazier in here, they tried to protect both men by having a boxing-themed finish, with Dusty losing so much blood that Joe has to stop the match and award the victory to Flair. The finish sucked the life out of the fans in the arena and it left a sour taste in my mouth. The match went around 12 minutes and it felt like a sprint with zero down-time. Flair flops around the place and begs Dusty off in typical Flair fashion. I have nothing against the in-ring stuff here, it's just that this match was missing a decent finish to make it a good package overall. ★★¾
  4. The rule that meant you had to pin both your opponents to score one fall was confusing, and the English commentators made no effort to explain this before the match started. I'm sure it's something that you would have known if you were an avid follower of lucha, but seeing as this entire card was designed as a showcase to get more English-speaking fans into lucha, I find it baffling how they did not explain the rules to one of the biggest matches on the show. The work rate here was great, with it feeling like a NJPW juniors at times. Eddy and Art rule as heels, and they did a fantastic job at riling up the fans. There are a few botches or miscommunications here and there that detract from the action slightly. Both teams put over the piledriver as a devastating move, with Octagon selling the Tombstone like absolute death. Santo is left by himself to fight for his team's masks and the last few minutes featured a lot of gripping drama, before Santo is able to score a roll-up to win the match. I don't quite see this as an all-time great match, but I've always struggled to really get into lucha. ★★★★
  5. cactus

    Invader I vs. Al Perez (Street Fight) (10/26/86)

    Finally, a street fight that actually lives up to its name! The visual of both guys going at it in jeans adds a lot to the overall presentation, as does the grotty-looking Puerto Rican arena. These guys didn't even enter the ring and the ring posts were only used to smash each other's skulls into. The brawling here was fantastic, with every punch having urgency and they even threw in some ball shots when they needed to. Perez tries to straight-up murder Invader by throwing him down a stairwell. Invader hangs on to the railing for his life as the crowd shriek in pure horror. The atmosphere was chaotic and you got the feeling that someone might legitimately die. This was a great showcase of what the Puerto Rican wrestling scene was up to in the 80s. ★★★★¾
  6. This was an amazing showcase of the talents of both Reigns and Styles. Their styles compliment each other well, with Styles having to be resourceful to take control of his bigger opponent. We've seen countless weapons matches during the last twenty years, but they actually managed to make all the big spots feel organic and even the barricade spot looked good! The only thing I didn't like was the crowd brawling spot as there is no way to make that feel fresh after WWE whoring it out every few months. Styles bumped like crazy for that announce table spot. The Good Brothers and The Usos soon get involved, but it doesn't detract from the action. All the close calls were convincing, with even the die-hard Roman detractors buying into the false finishes. ★★★★¾ 
  7. If you've seen any of the Colon vs Hansen matches before, you know what you are getting: a firey bloodbath with some of the craziest fans you will ever see! This is escape-only and it reminded me a lot of the Slaughter/Backlund cage match from 1981 in that they both feature an ass-kicking babyface and a cowardly heel who just wants to escape the cage. This even features double ball-shots, with Hansen cutting off Colon's shine with a well-placed low blow. Later in the match, Colon returns the favour. One thing that I loved about Hansen's run in WWC is how he is able to portray a rough Texan bulldozer whilst also being a coward when he needs to be. Once Colon has Hansen beat down, the heel locker room pours out and tries to stop Colon from escaping. The faces come out to help Colon and this results in a massive brawl. The crowd came UNGLUED during this and it made for a hell of a spectacle. ★★★★¾
  8. Colon isn't the best brawler in the world, but he more than makes up for it by being charismatic and knowing how to milk the drama with the bull rope. Colon cartwheeling to start his comeback popped me big time! A cartwheel in a bloodbath like this could have felt out of place, but Colon made it work. These two just pounded the shit out of each other, using the bull rope to batter and choke each other. They both get juice and the crowd went apeshit for them. Hansen was exceptional here. His body language was top-notch and he falls over like a big redwood whenever Colon was able to best him during the struggle with the rope. Never had a tug of war felt tenser than it did when these two were pulling away! ★★★★★
  9. Hansen turning up in AJPW was a huge deal and it caused for a rowdy atmosphere where one wrong move could see the wheels fly off this match and break down into utter chaos. They are able to wrestle a straight wrestling match for the most part, until Hansen gets physically involved and nearly lariats the head of Terry Funk's shoulders! Snuka puts in a career performance during this match. His high spots look great and they never feel out of place during this heated tag bout. Everything before the Hansen interference was rock-solid stuff, but the match goes to the next level when Dory is forced to fight off both Brody and Snuka by himself as Terry tries to recover on the outside. ★★★★¾
  10. I've never been a fan of the escape-only cage matches, but I'd make an exception for this! Slaughter and Backlund are pros at milking the escape teases. Backlund had Slaughter's leg hanging on by a thread as he tried to leave via the door and you could cut the tension with a knife! The pace of this never let down and the crowd was nuclear-hot the entire 15 minutes that this bloodbath lasted. Nobody takes a turnbuckle bump as well as Slaughter does and that whip reversal he takes face-first into the cage also served as a great transition for Backlund to begin his ass-kicking segment. Slaughter's not here to fight and just wants to escape the cage and win the match. I love him using his last bit of strength to lunge himself to the door as Backlund was pounding on his bloody head. I can't name you a cage match that I've enjoyed more than this one! ★★★★★
  11. This was all matwork, but the matwork is excellent, so I can hardly complain! Ricky Morton looks like a baby here as he takes on the grizzled Sonny King. This was a young upstart versus the salty veteran. The tension builds up as the match goes and no wrestler is able to score an advantage. King does a great job of showing his frustration as the match goes on. This had a proto-shoot-style vibe to it. It's all grappling! The ten-minute time limit ends up expiring just as Morton had King rolled up in a sunset flip. The ten minutes just flew by and I didn't even mind this going to a non-finish. ★★★¼
  12. This was textbook tag team wrestling. They are given plenty of time here. The Harts start the match by stalling around, with Bret complaining that his hair is being pulled during every lock-up. Dynamite uses one of the Hart's old stampede tricks against them by escaping a wristlock by throwing them to the outside. The Hart Foundation eventually get their hands on Dynamite and works him over. Dynamite is a great face-in-peril. We get all the usual tag spots here, such as the referee missing the face tags and the heels double-teaming. Gorilla Monsoon straight-up buries the referee here. I love the finish, which saw the faces using the heel's own tricks against them. ★★★★¼
  13. The crowd is intrigued by the FMW team and they want to see them hit their high-flying stuff that they've heard so much about. The Holy Demon Army keeps cutting them off and this pisses off the crowd. Kawada and Taue are salty as hell that the fans could be so fickle and cheer for these flippy outsiders when they've been busting their asses for them for over a decade. Hayabusa is isolated and he's worked over and it gave this match a very Southern flavor. Shinzaki looks like he might have a chance of besting Kawada after he kicks out of a brutal flurry, but one Soulful Powerbomb later and he's sent packing. This was looked interesting on paper and it more than delivered and it's one of the better matches AJPW put out during the later part of the 90's. ★★★★¾
  14. People seem to forget that Jim Neidhart was just as good as Bret when they were a tag unit. This was babyface Hart Foundation by the numbers and it's predictably good stuff. Bret gets worked over and Neidhart gets the tag and clears house. Judging by the crowd reaction Neidhart got during this, you would think he would be the one to be the breakout megastar of his team. The Hart Foundation get some convincing nearfalls from some innovative double-team moves, including one where Bret slingshotted Anvil from the inside the ring to outside onto his opponent. Fun match, with a good finish which sees Jimmy Hart using his megaphone to score the victory for his team. ★★★¼
  15. The first round is dominated by one arm lock and they somehow keep things exciting for the entire five minutes. Grey has to find ways to escape Saint's hold, but Saint isn't going to give up his hold without a fight. Both guys are faces, but Saint works this one as the more seasoned quasi-heel and Grey is fighting from underneath for the most part. Grey beat Saint before and wants to prove that match was no fluke. On top of all the sublime story-telling, this had great limbwork, crafty counters, and a constant barrage of excitement. ★★★★¾
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