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  1. Great match: hard-hitting, intense with great heat. Smart finish that indicates the cumulative effect of damage sustained across the match.
  2. NWA US Champion Greg "The Hammer" Valentine vs "Rowdy" Roddy Piper - NWA Starrcade 1983 Dog Collar Match The 1980s were just a decade of absolute awesome, violent brawls. It is a total lost art. I love how Valentine and Piper put over the danger the match early with the tug of war with the chain and just how cautious they are. I love a barnburner brawl, but there is something about this slow build that adds to the danger element. You add in Gordon & Caudle stressing the injury to Piper's ear. You know at any point Valentine could lash that heavy steel chain against the Hot Rod's vulnerable ear. Piper was in command early and used the chain more effectively. We got some many cool, violent chain spots. Valentine wrapping it around Piper's eyes only to have Piper wrap it around The Hammer's mouth and nose was an awesome visual. We got of course Piper yanking the chain out from under Valentine into his crotch, a good TIMBAH spot and Piper fucking around with Valentine in the corner. One of Piper's counters was just to take the chain hold it taught and pop right into Valentine's face. I let out an audible "Shit!" and grimace every time I see that spot. On the outside, Valentine seeks refuge, but Piper just hurls a chair at him and continues to wail. The ref tries to restrain Piper and BOOM! Chain lashed straight against the ear. What follows is one of the nastiest and gnarliest heel heat segments. Valentine bashes the side of Piper's head into the post and chucks him into chairs. He constantly is brutalizing the ear with the chain, his massive forearms and knees. The infamous blading of the ear takes to a whole new visceral level. There are two times Piper is in his element: loud, obnoxious jackass you want to punch in the face and scrappy underdog. We get the best damn scrappy underdog Piper! I loved when he fires up and just tackles Valentine. He sees his own blood and just fucking loses his shit. The best part about any Valentine match he will take as good as he gives. So he is game for taking all the beating from Piper. Also what is great about the Hammer is he ain't just let you fucking hit him. He is going to fire right back at you with some stiff shots. It was awesome watching this. The suplex struggle and the visual of both men lying on their backs with the chains on their faces was more telling than any words I can write. After all this violent awesomeness, how can I have complaints, I do and they are minor. I have never really like Piper's punches and some of them were clear whiffs. I wished he tightened that shit up. My bigger problem is the finish. It is just too anticlimatic. In the 80s, you can get away with that finish because the crowd is going to pop anytime an over babyface goes over an over heel. It was just Piper yanks Valentine off the second rope in the safest bump of the match, sort of throws the chain around and then just pins with a half-hogtie, just was not that definitive violent ending. What takes Slaughter/Sheik, Duggan/DiBiase, and Mags/Blanchard to that next level is that definitive, satisfactory and memorable violent ending. It is the lack of that ending that gets this knocked down a peg. Up until that finish, it was right there with him in terms of sheer brutality and great hated-filled brawling. ****3/4
  3. WWF Heavyweight Champion Bob Backlund vs Greg Valentine - MSG 3/26/79 This is the rematch to their classic one hour draw. I have never seen this particular Backlund/Valentine encounter and of all the MSG matches I think this is the least. I really like the draw, 81 series and their 84 match is unhearalded I would say all those matches are at least ****1/2. This match plays on the draw by having no countout there must be a winner so part of the psychology is too tease that they are going to go long and this causes a looooooooooooooooong front facelock sequence where a fan audibly yells “Cmon somebody do something.” I love you, Bob and Greg, but I gotta agree. The early Backlund shine before this facelock was solid highlighted by a wicked Backlund forearm. I love Backlund/Valentine exchanges they are just so nasty. Backlund starts to break up the front facelock with some nice hope spots and Valentine responds by trying the figure-4 and the crowd ooohs and aaaahs. No not the front facelock, but he moves into the deathlock and slaps the back of Backlund’s head now that is just insulting. Backlund is ripshit and powers out, carries him over to a corner and slaps the shit outta him. I love Backlund/Valentine! The next sequence will blow your mind. Valentine applies a half-crab, but Backlund grabs the toe and he transitions this into a cradle that is just outstanding. Now Backlund tries to go for the half-crab, but Valentine still has a leg. So Backlund maneuvers into a monkey flip, WOW! Backlund Figure-4!!!! MSG ROARING! Incredible sustained heat! Valentine makes ropes and Backlund is rocking back and won’t release. Valentine reverses and Backlund is writhing and hollering. Valentine works on the legs and Backlund responds with a crazy headbutt. TIMMMMMBBBBAAAAAHHHHH!!! Valentine big elbow to top of the head and covers. Backlund slaps his back at two and The Hammer thinks he has won. Backlund atomic drop wins the match for the Champ. I really liked the home stretch with some hot sequences around leg work that really showcased how good both were. God that front facelock and horrible finish just really kills the match for me. For as strong as Backlund looks some of these finishes are just horrible for him. It was Valentine’s last match with Backlund in the Garden until 81 why not put Backlund over clean. Still some really great shit! ***3/4
  4. G. Badger

    Spotlight: Starrcade

    I was never what you would call a WCW fan growing up. I liked seeing the matches on Saturday or Sunday but, I never went out of my way to watch Nitro until the Monday Night Wars stuff. It was WCW that grabbed my attention first with Goldberg and his streak. Plus my older cousin thought he was cool and therefore I did too Quickly, I found out that I preferred WWF to WCW in most instances and then ECW came in the picture and I never looked back really. So, with that being said, I never gave a thought to WCW's pay-per-views and although the titles were cooler than WWF's the cards usually sucked. So, here I am all of these years later willing to call bullshit on myself and check out the best of the best PPV that WCW had to offer - Starrcade. The saving grace of this project is that many of the matches on this list (this is the Starrcade Essential Collection set by WWE) are from Jim Crockett Promotions and/or in the early days of WCW. Half are from the 80's and 5 more are between 1990-1993. Anyhow there's 25 matches and I'm going run down (or up?) the list to see just how essential these matches are. I might give impressions for some, others I might have a review, and even more I might have written something up in the match discussion archives. Let's start Roddy Piper vs Hollywood Hogan (1996): Good match with good action that tells the Match of the Decade story well. Intense too which was a big surprise considering Hogan was in the ring...I mean honest-looking intensity and not that hammy crappola. Sting vs Great Muta (1989): Iron Man tournament match which I saw a few months ago during my Great Muta You Might Have Missed post ( https://forums.prowrestlingonly.com/blogs/entry/685-great-muta-you-might-have-missed/). Shit that was almost a year ago!? Anyhow, an under 10 minute banger with Sting and Muta at the height of blending simple wrestling with a fast pace and a few flashy moves. I liked this quite a bit. I'll say a very good match. Barry Windham & Brian Pillman vs Ricky Steamboat & Shane Douglas (1992): Awesome action packed title match. This Starrcade thing doesn't seem that bad! This also featured Pillman and Douglas ushering a crash-bang style that we would we would see in ECW and the Attitude era. Not that they invented it or anything but, its in contrast to Windham and Ricky's style here. Great match! Goldberg vs Kevin Nash (1998): The match that ended THE STREAK and perhaps was an early sign of things to come. Goldberg and Nash actually wrestle a good match up until the hi-jinks and Hall electrocutes Goldberg. Battlebowl (1991): I don't like Battle Royals. So, I'll make a couple suggestions. Fast forward to when Ricky Morton & Liger are wrestling each other. Then fast forward to when Luger and Vader are in ring #1 by themselves (yes there are two rings). Then fast forward to when it boils down to Steamboat and Sting vs Austin and Rude (Luger is in waiting so to speak). Then watch the rest of the match and you might call this good. This rated higher than the 1992 tag match? horse shit! Dustin Rhodes vs Steve Austin (1993): Starts of pretty good and just sorta ends. I had high hopes for this but, uh yeah it's very much what I expect out of WCW. The last 3 matches don't seem very "essential" to me. I talk more about it in the 1993 match discussion yearbook. I really don't want to do that again here...if that gives you an idea. Road Warriors vs Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard (1987): Oh crap the Road Warriors...this is not looking good..let's see. Oh man am I wrong! Maybe it's Arn and Tully but, this is perhaps the best Warriors match I've seen. We see a brains & brawn story unfold despite their early domination, Hawk & Animal don't seem invincible. There are some hi-jinks but, it is pandemonium so it works. I loved this match- it was all about selling and timing and it comes off beautifully! Near classic match...hells yeah! Rey Misterio vs Jushin Liger (1996): Oh Rey vs Liger '96, this should be an easy great match! Nope! It's neat but, just felt clunky and the commentary team bury them. This is a great example of how WCW was out of step with where wrestling was headed. It was a fun exhibition match though. Rock 'n Roll Express vs Midnight Express (1987): I wish they could have put another type of match on here with these teams. It was high risk and whatnot but, is really a novelty that doesn't really show what these guys do best. Nevertheless it was one of the best scaffold matches I've seen. I've seen like 4 so...maybe that's not a recommendation. Sorta goes into the realm of Battle Royal matches to me. Ric Flair vs Lex Luger (1988): Here we have our first classic match of the set! I never would have thought it'd come from Luger. Simple but effective stuff! GO SEE THIS!! 1988 Everything else folder has more gushing if you need it. Eddie Guerrero vs Shinjiro Otani (1995): I've seen this match twice and liked it better the 2nd time. Its what the Rey vs Liger match needed to be. Skip that one and watch Otani and Eddie go! Again, I beat a dead horse in the 1995 December yearbook if you want to see that Very good match. Not sure why this is "ahead" of Flair/Luger '88 at all though...gotta give something to Eddie I suppose. Dusty Rhodes & Sting vs Road Warriors (1988): Hmm can't seem to find my notes on this one...I remember it being good with Sting doing his thing. It was not as good as the Tully/Arn match I can tell you that much. I think it was meant to get Sting over since I really don't remember Dusty or the Warriors doing much but a good match and letting Sting shine. Sting vs Vader (1992): People have called this a classic match but, I disagree. Its great but, not a classic. There are a few too many flaws that screw with my suspension of disbelief to put it in that **** 1/2+ class. Selling and the finish being the two biggest complaints. Nevertheless, it is Sting vs Vader - Go watch it for yourself and then head over to the 1992 December archives and see where your opinion falls. Jack & Jerry Brisco vs Ricky Steamboat & Jay Youngblood (1983): A great action packed match. Maybe people don't think that can happen in 1983 here we have it! There were tons of double team moves from both sides. Angelo Mosca is the ref and played his role perfectly. This felt like a real battle in the unreal realm of pro-wrestling! Dusty Rhodes vs Ric Flair (1985): An entertaining match that was kept even keel for some reason. This lacked the charisma and excitement I expected. It felt very average. Eddie Guerrero vs Dean Malenko (1997): Again, I can't find any notes on this one. From memory it started off well but, I don't think it really set the world on fire. Probably very much like the Dusty/Flair match above. They had to give a nod to the feud I suppose so, here it is... Road Warriors vs Steiner Brothers (1989): Everyone was selling and bumping. There were no miscues or blown spots. They did their power moves and throws. What more can you ask really!!? It was a dream match as your gonna get. I thought it was very good and should be in both teams highlight reels. Certainly so for the Steiners as I thought the quality and style was right around what they would be doing in NJPW in the 90's. Ladder Match (2000): This is the 3 way ladder match that was really a harbinger of early 2000's indy 'let's try anything' wrestling. It sucks that Jamie Noble and Kaz Hiyashi (who I like) are in this thing. Its also on the first WWE Ladder Match DVD set so, I skipped this. Sting vs Ric Flair (1989): I believe this is the Finals of the 1989 Iron Man tourney. Terry Funk and Jim Ross are on commentary (yes!). This was a great match featuring athletic, charismatic wrestling as you'd hope for. Both guys really put on an action filled match despite the previous bouts and you gotta give it to them for that alone. From what I've seen here and above 1989 looked sweet. Roddy Piper vs Greg Valentine (1983): And if '89 looked sweet then '83 was sweeter. Oh man, we get the legendary Dog Collar match between Piper and Valentine and it does not disappoint. It was a madhouse type of match where they're just wailing away on each other with abandon. So many visually remarkable moments involving the chain...man they just did it right. A brutal and bloody affair. A classic match. Road Warriors vs Midnight Express (1986): Another scaffold match. This was remarkably dangerous and Cornette takes a bump off the scaffold (dangling) that seriously injures him. Watch it on fast forward perhaps. Again, these really aren't my thing :/ Sting vs Hogan (1997): Sting's entrance gave me goosebumps. Make no mistake though this is late 90's WCW and they have to fucking slip in some interference in every big match just for the hell of it. Its like having a nice meal at a restaurant and right before you finish, the waiter comes over and drops a fly in it. Like "Why man? Why?" It was a good match even though they dropped a fly in it. For nostalgia sake, watch this big moment in wrestling. I never saw it before and I'm glad I did. Hogan may actually out wrestle Sting too! Ric Flair vs Harley Race (1983): Steel cage NWA world title match. I watched this a couple times in a week about 7 years back and recall it being very good. It was nice and stiff but, a little to methodical if memory serves me correct. I think it was kinda long too...could be wrong. Maybe it just felt long?? I decided to pass but, this is a big time match up so, if you're curious check it out. Tully Blanchard vs Magnum TA (1985): This I Quit match was the #1 reason that I spent the $5 at the used DVD/game store for this DVD set. This was violent from the very start...they looked like they wanted to maim each other. I believed it man. I mean Magnum was digging his fingers into Tully's arm trying to pull Tully's wound apart and he's the babyface!! They had to switch cameras that it was so nasty. Visceral barbaric wrestling...this did not disappoint. An all time classic without a doubt. If this is your thing, go see this match. If you gotta buy this DVD, do it. It's worth the dough. Vader vs Ric Flair (1993): This was Vader's title against Flair's career. I bet you know who wins This was deemed the greatest Starrcade match of all time by someone(s) at WWE. That's arguable but, I understand why they put this over Tully and Magnum. Flair. And it is a great match. It is not without its detractors and I am one of them. I watched this twice in 2 days and my take away is this- it is too slow at the start. Vader wants to pick apart and torture Flair rather than just pin him. I get this but, it is at a turtle's pace. Flair should have had a couple pin attempts in there to show that he had fight rather than getting pummeled. It does get good once Flair makes his successful come-back. However, the pacing and finish are all off to me. The finish required Vader to sell the leg being hurt but, he didn't at all/forgot/etc. so, it seemed like an odd fluke win. Maybe that's what they were going for but, it was clumbsily executed on Vader's part (understandable). But that's a small quibble next to the drawn out first half of the match where Vader beat Flair like a rented mule. Some of the appeal had to be thinking that Flair was going to lose...but, in 2019 that magic has worn away. So, I would say this set was hit or miss with more hits in the end. Ranking the hits Honorable Mention: Eddie Guerrero vs Shinjiro Otani (1995) 10) Sting vs Great Muta (1989) 9) Road Warriors vs Steiner Brothers (1989) 8) Barry Windham & Brian Pillman vs Ricky Steamboat & Shane Douglas (1992) 7) Sting vs Vader (1992) 6) Sting vs Ric Flair (1989) 5) Jack & Jerry Brisco vs Ricky Steamboat & Jay Youngblood (1983) 4) Road Warriors vs Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard (1987) 3) Ric Flair vs Lex Luger (1988) 2) Roddy Piper vs Greg Valentine (1983) 1) Tully Blanchard vs Magnum TA (1985) I'm very glad that I shelled out the 5 bucks for 10 awesome matches. I feel like Race vs Flair should also be an honorable mention as well. So 12 out of 25 matches that are totally worth checking out...not bad. I'm not sure what that says about WCW or maybe it says more about WWE, I suppose. I'd probably thing the latter is the culprit. They probably could have loaded this with great stuff from 83-89 and I would have been pleased as punch. Heck, Starrcade 83-93 would have been more than acceptable. Thanks for reading! At the very least watch the top 3 matches above! I'm so glad that I did. Until next time...
  5. NWA Mid-Atlantic Champion Wahoo McDaniel vs Greg Valentine - JCP/MACW 9/7/77 Awesome TV slugfest sprint! New Japan boys take note this is how you do strike exchanges! Short bursts of impact! Wahoo was awesome in this. Loved the early technical acumen nice drop toehold and the ab stretch into a cradle. Valentine was at using cheating to set up his bruising. The best part was definitely mini-Wahoo comebacks when he would just chop shit out of Valentine. Those chop exchanges were electric. You can see the Mid-Atlantic style was pretty much in place. Hard-hitting, stiff- action-packed, competitive. Really avante-garde for the time. Wahoo's chop to Valentine's nose was tremendous. David Crockett was going crazy with how hard they were hitting each other. This is the famous Valentine broke Wahoo's leg match. Valentine did not like Indians. Wahoo immediately taps out and is hollering in pain. Flair comes out and congratulates Valentine. Stiff, energetic and competitive, with a killer angle at the end to boot. Great stuff. ****
  6. Greg Valentine vs Chief Jay Strongbow - WWF, MSG 7/30/79 Strap Match I thought they were on pace to have an even better match because they were really letting the fists fly in this, but the opted for the schmozz finish with Stronbow kicking the ref in the balls and the faces breaking it up this no contest. The Hammer threw a couple punches at a fan for trying to grab a chair from him, but the fan pretty much no sold the punches. Strongbow is the worst seller ever. Valentine did not want to put the strap on so he jumped Strongbow and then put the strap on. Smart man. He busts Strongbow open, but upon seeing his blood the WARDANCE~! is triggered. Strongbow makes Philly look like a walk in the park and he opens a can of whoop ass on Valentine. What I like in this match is Valentine starts to fight back and they really have some awesome exchanges. Too short and lame of a finish so not as good as Philly, but definitely a recommended watch. ***1/2
  7. Greg Valentine vs Chief Jay Strongbow - WWF, Philly 7/21/79 This one did not disappoint as the Titan boys were correct that this is a barnburner of a revenge match. The Hammer broke the Chief's leg and he is out for vengeance. Chief does not sprint down but instead stares daggers into the eyes of Valentine, who looks really sad, but Vince tries to sell as a look of violence. Valentine tries to jump Strongbow and attack the weakened knee, but there is a metal brace on it. Strongbow repeatedly bashes Valetine's head into it. I loved that! It was a cool twist. Strongbow showed great fire and really kicked the shit out of Valentine. He busted him open with a metal mic stand. He choked him with the mic cord. He got a stool smashed him in the head and then broke off a leg and hit him with that. You really got the feeling he was pissed. Valentine tried to go back to the knee with some success, but when he tried to put on the Figure-4, Stronbow would eye gouge and chop the cut. Strongbow was relentless and Valentine was great at selling. Parv is right in that Strongbow blows at selling. He reminds me of 1998 Sting in how shitty he sells. The good thing was he was on offense for the most part. Valentine took a wicked header into the guard rail. Valentine tries to bail, but Strongbow keeps catching him and bashing him into the knee brace. In the ultimate choke, the Chief actually loses by countout when they both knock heads sending both to the outside with Valentine getting back in first. the crowd ate this up with the spoon. Great fire and blood make this a great watch, both wrestlers really brought it in this revenge match. ****1/4
  8. WWF Heavyweight Champion Bob Backlund vs Greg Valentine - MSG 10/19/81 Huge kudos to the Titans especially Pete to get me to watch this in short order. This bad boy did not disappoint. "Anything you can do, I can do better." - Bob Backlund's motto. Whether it is out-brawling Patera, out-powering Hogan or in this match out-slugging Valentine, Backlund's game is to prove he is better than his opponent at their game. It is this attitude that truly makes him a world heavyweight champion (I acknowledged it was not recognized as a World title, but damnit Bob is my boy.). In this match, there a countless of examples of Valentine executing a move and Backlund absorbing the move and then dishing out the same move but with even more impact and ferocity. This is established early with Valentine getting three early takedowns. Backlund fires back in rapid fire those three same takedown. Anything you can do, Hammer, I can do better and don't you forget it, pal! The crux of the match centers around Valentine and his full court press to apply the figure-4 on Backlund. He begins by weakening the knees. There is a great spot where Backlund gets a monkey flip out of a half crab. Anytime, Backlund looks to turn the tide, Valentine comes crashing down with a thunderous blow. Valentine tries 8 million ways to apply the figure-4, but he can't wrangle the ever-scrappy Backlund. This is just perfect pro wrestling. You can feel Valentine's frustration about not being able to apply this hold and simultaneously you feel Backlund's desperation to avoid this hold at all costs. The figure-4 becomes everything and you are totally invested in this struggle between these two competitors. Valentine tries a different tact. He turns the match into a slugfest. Against pretty much anyone else, Valentine could bully his way to victory with his vicious forearms, but not against our hero. Backlund gives as good he gets with equally vicious elbows, fists and headbutts that must have inspired BattlArts, The dynamic switch between stand up and ground really feels like you are watching BatBat match take place in early 80s WWF in MSG. It is crazy. Valentine bullies him into the ropes and goes back to the legs. He applies the figure-4 and Backlund immediately flips to his stomach. GREATEST SPOT EVER! Bow down at the altar of Bob Backlund! Again Valentine stymied switches to slugfest and this ends with a BACKLUND PILEDRIVER~! Only two for Bob, who misses the leg drop and hurts the injured leg. BattlArts headbutts from the knees ensue and they just beating the shit outta each other. Then we get the finish. Valentine hoists Backlund up for the airplane spin, but hits the ref. Backlund ends up on top, a groggy ref counts to three, Valentine is up first and because they wearing the same trunks and have similar builds the ref hands the title incorrectly to the Hammer thus the title is held up. I get that they are setting up for a rematch and this is creative, but I didn't dig it. It is just kinda lame. I can't really explain it. It is just lame in my eyes. It knocks the match down just a peg. Still one of the all-time classics of the Backlund era, an absolute pleasure to watch and guide on how to sell the importance of a hold and a match. Terrific performance from both wrestlers. ****1/4 Rewatch: Really enjoyed the body for all the same reasons I mention above. I think one thing I didnt mention was how I liked the constant double knockouts. Whether it was from headbutts or a suplex, the double KO spots really made this feel symmetrical and like these two are equals. Backlund was great at selling the leg throughout. The finish is fucking terrible. It is one of the all time worst finishes and I cant believe I was so charitable before. This is the Seth/Bray of the 80s, so bad. Knocked the down the rating slightly.
  9. http://placetobenation.com/titans-of-wrestling-42-wwwf-at-madison-square-garden-april-14-1975/ The boys are back for another look at that wild year of 1975, this time focusing on the April 14th card from Madison Square Garden. On the docket: 4-14-75 TONY ALTIMORE vs MIKE PAIDOUSIS 4-14-75 GREG VALENTINE vs EL OLYMPICO 4-14-75 JAY STRONGBOW vs WALDO VON ERICH 4-14-75 BRUNO SAMMARTINO vs SPIROS ARION - GREEK DEATH MATCH 4-14-75 EDOUARD CARPENTIER vs BIG JOE NOVA 4-14-75 BOBBY DUNCUM vs VICTOR RIVERA Also on tonight's show, marvel at... -The new anti-workrate masterpiece of all-time -El Olympico: The Man in the Half-Mask -"Friendly" Bob Freed: The announcer who never met a name he couldn't mispronounce -Bruno Sammartino's attempt at vengeance in the dreaded GREEK DEATH MATCH!!!! -Plus extended discussion on Greg Valentine and his early career, the ideal wrestling champion, a mini Mike Paidousis bio and Nazi's!
  10. http://placetobenation.com/titans-of-wrestling-36-interview-with-tito-santana/ Parv and Pete interview Tito Santana about his early career in Florida, Georgia, WWF, and AWA, and about his legendary feud over the Intercontinental Title with Greg Valentine from 1985. Head over to Tito's website: titosantana.net/ And contact him on Twitter @RealTitoSantana The PWO-PTBN Podcast Network features great shows you can find right here at Place to Be Nation. By subscribing on iTunes or SoundCloud, you’ll have access to new episodes, bonus content, as well as a complete archive of: Where the Big Boys Play, Titans of Wrestling, Pro-Wrestling Super-Show, Good Will Wrestling, and Wrestling With the Past.