Happy holiday season everyone! One of the things that I'm thankful for this year was discovering the wonder of JCP through my Crockett Cup review. Considering one of the things that took off on this show was the Road Warriors/Midnight Express feud, I wanted to take a look at the culmination of that feud on this show. Let's find out how this show is!
Opening Ceremony: First we get a single strobelight bouncing to the tune fo the 80s Starrcade theme, including blue electric font on the big screen reading "The Skywalkers". In Greensboro (yes, Dusty puled off Wrestemania II twice, your move Vince), ring announcer Tom Miller welcomes us to the show. The crowd noise is so loud for this it picks up on Tom's mic and we get horribly scratchy rock concert fare. While Tom is talking, the scaffold is super imposed over him. Also, while The National Anthem is playing, the American flag is superimposed onto that. Someone in production was really excited to hit the superimposition button! We then throw to
Tony Schiavone and Rick Stewart in Atlanta: They do a very generic job of hyping the matches that will take place there. We then throw to
Bob Caudle and Johnny Weaver in Greensboro: Bob has a Jim Ross esque energy, while Johnny just motors through the matches to be live in Greensboro
The story of the match centers on how much of a moose Don is, throwing people around and only getting heat on himself when he misses a big corner splash. That said Don actually puts up a good fight but you can tell Don is weakened. He tags Rocky while being in a sleeper hod and Rocky gets a sunset flip on Royal off of Don's back, which was neat. Rocky misses a crossbody and that's how we get the heat, until Rocky and Tim go for a running jumping...thing and bonk heads, leading to the double down. Don hoofs Tim around after a tag, and misses a big splash. I like how "Don's a brick shit house but constantly puts himself in danger doing risky stuff." is a consistent story being told" what I don't like however is the heat being on Don for less than a minute. Horner counters and O'Connor roll and gets the flash pinfall on Rocky.
This was a bad match. Babyfaces Horner and Royal (but especially Horner) did frick all, and won unconvincingly against marginally more interesting heels
Post match: The crowd boos their celebration. Something tells me they saw what I saw.
This match is basically a stalemate throughout. Eventually Jimmy has to start cheating to attain the big long holds that the first 10 minutes of this 15 minute match mostly consists of. That means we get a lot of Jimmy and Precious mouthing off and cheating, but then Brad gets to be a technical wizard babyface, and I think that's a dynamic that's lost, at least in the US. The no-nonsense beloved babyface vs the big flamboyent southern heel. Jimmy gets the advantage with a backdrop, a head into the turnbuckle, and throwing him out of the ring. Jimmy repeatedly knees and baseball slides Brad as he attempts to get in the ring, while Precious puts on the performance of her life mouthing off to Brad and generally just being an irredeemable witch. Jimmy works the neck and the back desperately going for pinfalls, even after a double down. Jimmy works the neck, while Brad sells wrestling hurt by basically geting surprise rollups and holds, all of which Jimmy quickly avoids. Jimmy misses a top rope splash, and that's the bell. This match is a draw.
This is probably the most perfect draw I've seen outside of some of the really famous examples (Joe vs Punk II, Flair/Steamboat, Bret/Shawn) From second one you could ell both guys were even in the skill department, that Jimmy is a cut throat bastard who'll do anything to win, and that Brad is a technical machine. I've also never seen a draw which ends on the biggest spot of the match, while simultaneously asking the question "What would happen if the guys got more time?" Really the only flaw was mat wrestling went on for a spot or two too long, as there were a few repeated spots, and one of those repeated spots involved Scrappy McGowan physically intervening to break up a pin when Jimmy had the tights, but this was a near perfect match
Post match: The guys continue wrestling briefly (which makes sense), but Brad gets a big haymaker on Jimmy, leaving the babyface the standing tall despite the finish. Precious godes Brad into fighting her so Jimmy can sneak up on him, but Brad sees through it and attacks Jimmy! Jimmy teases getting back in but Precious has tol hold him back. This is near perfect.
This is a wild brawl from the start. We get the Irish Whip Dosey Doe spot relatively early and then it starts. We get over Hector's speed and Ring IQ, as well as Barbarian's Strength. Hector does a tope and it nearly breaks the crowd and the commentators. Unfortunately this allows the heels to do heel things on the outside. Hector makes the hot tag finally, and Von Raschke goose steps to the delight of the crowd. Cue some of the softest 1970s running wild you've ever seen. Barb breaks up a Von Raschke caw on Watley and we've broken down into a four way.. Watley misses a corner splash and gets a standing elbow drop for the surprise 3
I see what they were trying to do. Keep Hector strong, keep Barb strong, let Watley be a buffoon, and let Von Rachske get his shit in., Unfortunately what that means is we get a very basic tag match that had a heat segment that went a smidge too long.,
Post match: The heels beat up the Baron, and Hector makes the save. Follows up with the story of the actual match which is good.
Johnny Weaver is outside Dusty's locker room door: He rambles and slurs his way through telling us Dusty isn't granting interviews. Dusty says so much himself when Johnny barges in Dusty's locker room. I hate this backstage interview trope and glad it's mostly gone from modern wrestling.
The Russian Team (Krusher Khruschev and Ivan Koloff) (c) vs. The Kansas Jayhawks (Bobby Jaggers and Dutch Mantel)
For some reason Ivan is wearing black, while Krusher wears the more traditional Soviet heel garb. He looks more like a Demolition Man character than a Soviet athlete....but they're wearing matching gear underneath. They could get matching gear but not jackets/bandanas?
We're told that The Russians screwed the Jayhawks out of a previous match, hense why it's No DQ. The Russians try to wrestle at first, then the Jayhawks just beat the shit out of them. They have to change gears to counter the other team's style but it always ends with The Jayhawks on the upper hand. They even do a spot where they illegally double team Krusher while Ivan accidentally distracts the ref. Despite some logic holes introduced early (why even have the ref be distracted if it's no DQ, why do rope break counts if it's No DQ) it's interesting to see the face heel dynamic flipped for a match this serious. The Russians get the upperhand when Krusher blocks a drop toehold, tags in Ivan, and locks in a headlock, but the Jayhawks fight right back, The Russians have to cheat like two separate times. The commentary team then talks about Nikita's defection, and it makes sense that the Russian Team is a team discombobulated, in everything from their ring attire to their in ring work. Dutch gets shinbreakered into the guard rail for the true heat. Dutch makes his own comeback and poor Krusher takes the world's slowest, fake looking bump out of the ring on a clothesline.
The Russians try a "Bearhug/chain shot" double team but Dutch produces an Indiana Jones style whip called "Sue Baby" which sounds painful to be hit with and we even get a banana peel bump from Krusher because of an attack to the legs, but the Russians get a sneaky chain attack for the 3.
This felt more like a Ring of Honor Relaxed Rules match, where the rules were ignored when it was thematically appropriate. Relaxed rules matches are fine if on the other end you don't have completely absurd Indiana Jones whips and chains. Could you imagine if Jimmy Jacobs was in a relaxed rules match, and then produced his railroad spike? It's inconsistent n tone. That said, the guys did a good job getting their characters over.
Wahoo McDaniel vs Rick Rude (w/ Paul Jones)
Rick has the best dubbed theme of all time. A sultry voice asks exclaims "Ricky, you're so ravishing, where did you come from?" while the most pornographic music since Mandy Rose's theme plays. I recommend watching the show for this alone. Apparently Wahoo just came out to the Starrcade theme, because he gets the dubbed Starrcade song too.
They argue about who puts the strap on first which gives Wahoo the opportunity to punk out Paul, who does a great cartoonish cowering sell of the situation. Awesome., Wahoo interrupts Rude's flexing by slapping him with the strap on the ass, which causes Paul to do an amazing Scrappy Doo "let me at 'em" sell, only to cower again. The match hasn't started and everything's already great.
Wahoo immediately sells mastery of the strap as the bell rings by yanking Rude, and Rude flinching as a result.. Rude plays a coward at first, but then they go through the very basic strap match spots, and Rude seems handcuffed for lack of a better term by the strap, keeping his strikes lght and his offfense basic. Both guys trade touching 3/4 corners before getting cut off. Wahoo doesn't sell a top rope knee drop, and jerks Rude off...the top rope when he tries again, who basically takes a Swanton Bomb bump. Paul tries to cut off Wahoo on the fourth, but Rude attacks Wahoo from behind, sending him into the fourth turnbuckle for the win.
The pre-match was absolute perfection, but this is every strap match you've ever done seen.
Post match: The heels jump Wahoo but Hector and Baron make the save, because you see, on our biggest show THIS FEUD MUST CONTINUE. The crowd love it though because the babyfaces stand triumphant
Gary Micheal Cappetta interviews The Russian Team: FANTASTIC. Ivan cuts the most foreign-heely foreign heel promo of all time, threatening to destroy Dusty in the Bunkhouse Stampede matches for making an American out of Nikita. He also puts over Nikita's ability to defeat Ric Flair, and is rooting for him so either he or Krusher can take the title. Krusher of all people accuses Nikita of being a traitor in a shockingly decent promo. Ivan waxes philosophical about how dangerous and lawless Bunkhouse matches are, and that they are going to have a great time. That got a smile out of me.
Sam Houston (c) vs "Superstar" Bill Dundee
Sam Houston has a ridiculous cutoff tanktop/cape that appears to be a spandex Texas flag. I hope he loses based off this alone.
The guys wrestle with FEROCITY. Every thing, even the most basic stuff is done with oomph and hate. Dundee helps Sam get the most realistic Antonino Rocca headscissors I've ever seen. We get other cool little tricks, like grabbing the tights on an O'Connor roll not resulting in the heel getting the advantage. Dundee throws Houston out of the ring who catches a corner of the announce table, or so we're told but we're given a super far away camera angle to deduce this with. Sam immediately gets the upperhand, atomic dropping Dundee who does a crazy flip over the guard rail. Dundee lands the top rope fist drop, to which Sam kicks out after a cocky cover, and then we get rest holds. We get a reversed pinfall that ends up in the ropes. Another big top rope move followed by a rest hold sees Sam get momentum back, but he misses a knee drop so Dundee works the leg. We get a ref bump, and a shot with Sam Houston's own boot for the DQ win for him.
I am...super confused on what this match was. We had a super solid beginning, a decent end, and an almost impossible to follow middle because of all the things going on, and all the things they tried to set up. I will be looking for more shows featuring Dundee though, he rules despite this match.
Post match:They do the "heel thinks he won, but the face gets his hand raised" spot Dundee protests as Sam rolls out, wacking Sam with the boot. Say it with me kids, THIS FEUD MUST CONTINUE
In a very uncharacteristic dubbing error, we get the title card for the next match, which contains the first three seconds of Jimmy Valiant's actual theme, and then we jumpcut too
Jimmy Valiant (w/ Big Momma) vs Paul Jones
Manny puts up such a stink about getting in the cage that the rest of the zoo crew feuding Paul Jones' army have to come down and put him in, and Manny tries to fight all of them. This was awesome!
This is a manager vs wrestler match in which the manager has to use nefarious means to get the upper hand, and Jimmy has to fight back. I feel like if you were invested in the character of Jimmy Valiant this was cool, but as I'm not and judging it blind with thirty years of hindsight. It's a super tepid match.
Post match: Basically the same shit people criticize modern wrestling for Rick Rude runs down to jump the babyface with Manny and hit MNM's Snapshot on a chair. Wait what? Where are the babyfaces that were there in the preamble? Are the anti-Paul Jones guys just dicks, or is Jimmy Valiant the weird guy in the group of friends? We do get the "covering up the bald spot because I'm embarrassed" spot by Jones and co though. NOW Jimmy's friends show up What the hell am I supposed to feel here? The crowd loves the fact that Jimmy can walk out with assistance though. And so THIS FEUD MUST CONTINUE
Tony Schiavone addresses the live crowd and pimps the Bunkhouse Stampede coming up in December before throwing to...
Bob Taylor in the Starrcade control room: He pimps the Bunkhouse for a bit before we get
Nelson Royal pimping the Bunkhouse Stampede:Awesome. Nelson, a resident cowboy, explains the match type and explains where it derives from in history all while sitting around a campfire and acoustic guitar playing . Despite the fact that Nelson bumbles his promo, this really sets the mood, and it gives the whole thing gravitas.
Crockett Cup 1987 promo: Bad. The only thing we learn is that it's two nights long and in Baltimore, beyond that we just get highlights of 1986's.
Big Bubba Rogers (w/ iim Cornette) vs Ronnie Garvin
Yay they're in street clothes! The match is a big hoss brawl. For a significant amount of time we really only get three moves that aren't a punches or kicks, and those are lockups, one slam, and one big splash. Ronnie gets to withstand the dreaded roll of quarters (I can see why Jim is into this spot, it makes a great noise!) Ronnie also sells just barely getting the shoulder up after the splash. Bubba tries some crude looking submissions for Garvin to fight out of and then come back. Bubba gets muscled off the top rope but powers out of the insuing pin, causing Ronnie to squash the referee. Ronnie barely gets a piledriver, and while he's rested against the ropes Cornette wacks him with the racket. After a double ten count, we're told there MUST BE A WINNER by the referee, and the first man to his feet wins. Jim gets shoved on his ass by the ref when he tries to enter. He hits Ronnie in the knee with the racket while Bubba occupies the ref., allowing Bubba to win!
This was as near perfect of a bareknuckle, dragout brawl as you'll ever get. They even managed to make a screwy finish work in a way that still made Ronnie Garvin look like a badass by getting that far against Bubba. The only thing I didn't like about it was that, as with the US Tag Championship match, the people involve don't have the firmest grasp on what the impunity of "no rules" carries, so we still have a lot of sneaky heel rassler stuff, though to a far lesser extent than the aforementioned tag match. This, and the rules were lofty (at one point Bubba's count didn't end until he got in the ring after he'd been knocked out). Beyond this though I highly recommend checking this out.
Dusty Rhodes (c) vs. Tully Blanchard (w/ James J. Dillon)
Dusty gets the Goldberg walking from backstage entrance. He also has "Tully" written on the side of his head and is wearing a Magnum TA T-shirt. Now we know where Goldust learned how to do symbolism with his gear.
Dillon produces a bunch of things to thwart bleeding (amateur wrestling headgear, oil for the face) and the referee thwarts them each time, including the ref wiping Tully's face with a towel and Tully flailing like he's in the Mandible Claw. This cartoon shit works for Paul Jones, not for components of The Four Horsemen
We start with Dusty Bionic Elbowing Dillon because he yelled at him. Dillon sells by thrashing like he's been shot in the head. Dillon is bleeding hellas. Whelp, we all know how this match will end now. At least, it gives Tully a logical reason to immediately powder out. Dusty is keeping his forearms up high to prevent a cut, and Tully is powdering out of lockups at the threat of a punch. This is awesome. Dusty struts around and makes flamboyant hand gestures, and Dusty has Tully stopping mid run at the very tease of a Bionic Elbow Tully gets some momentum, but when Dusty get back into it we go back to powdering. More powdering. Dusty does a headbutt. I like the contrast of the reckless babyface who will do anything vs the tactical heel who's powdering at everything that could cause him to lose per the stipulation. Tully bumps, sells,and powders some more Tully does the logical thing and claws at Dusty's forehead in a rest hold, but it's back to Dusty. We get two of the most organic looking ref bumps ever (Dusty collapses onto the ref when he whiffs a punch, and the ref essentially takes the weight of a suplex from Dusty to Tully) We get a tease at a foreign object, but Dusty avoids it and throws it out. He works over the head and we have blood but the ref is down! JJ cleans up the blood while Dusty is distracted trying to revive the ref, and we get the good old roll of quarters spot. Dusty happens to roll over while selling to the ref, who revives, and sees Dusty is bleeding! Tully wins!
This had all the sins of bad prowrestling, especially in the preamble. Goofy comedy, and the babyface getting his heat back before the match ever began. But goddamnit was this match near perfect. Every movement lead like a straight line to the beginning, middle, and end of the match. I also thought JJ having to apply vaseline and wipe the cut down was a bit cartoony, as the ref could've called it without having seen Tully was bleeding. All this adds up to a near perfect match that I never want to see replicated again.
Post match: Dusty rightfully throws a shitfit, shoving the referee around. Even though we got a bullshit finish, the Dusty Rhodes at the end of the match is in a different place character wise than before the match, and THAT is what matters.
The Midnight Express (w/ Jim Cornette and Bubba Rogers) vs The Road Warriors (w/Paul Ellering)
The Road Warriors immediately go up the scaffold, meanwhile the Midnight are staying in the ring, and Jim Cornette appears to be CRYING AT THE PROSPECT OF THE MATCH! A++ babyface vs heel storytelling
Bless the guys. They do everytthing they can do on what essentially amounts to industrial grade monkey bars. The cowardly heels cheat, and get the upper hand, but we get the result we anticipated, the heels taking the big dip!
Every booker who looked at this match and thought, "Eh I could do a scaffold match differently" is a complete fool. This was as perfect of a match as you could get under such a completely asinine stipulation, and like Dusty vs Tully, never should have been replicated again.
No rating, GREAT segment
Post match: Ellering thwarts a tennis racket shot from Corny, which successfully contrives a reason for Corny and Elering to make the climb. This leads to Corny taking the gnarliest bump I've ever seen. You should watch this match if for no other reason than the post match.
Bob Taylor introduces some Great American Bash 1985 highlights: Bob flubs his lines and throws to some tape, the highlight of which is Precious hitting Wahoo as hard as she can in the back during a strap match and Wahoo just ignoring her and winning anyway. Also the Valiant/Paul Jones feud is a YEAR AND A HALF DEEP.
We get the credits with two matches left, and then we get....
Arn and Ole Anderson vs The Rock n' Roll Express (c)
The good thing about this match is that The Andersons deal with each opponent differently. They work over Gibson's leg because he bumps his knee on a running knee in the corner. Then when Ricky tags in Ole just beats the shit out of him with punches and the cage. Great, logical way to slow a fresh man down. I also thinkk The Andersons are working Morton's arm/hand to prevent a tag, but the commentators aren't explaining that That said, this is The Andersons vs The Rock and Roll, two teams with two very specific match structures, so I found myself waiting for the innevitable hot take to Robert. Except we don't! Gibson dropkicks Ole midhold so Morton falls into a pin.
Morton's selling was great, but he sold for goddamn ever, and the babyfaces cheated to subvert the all important hot tag. This was a great match, but not as good as the previous couple of matches
Post match: The heels beat up the babyfaces, who slither out of the cage, and limp to the back. Your triumphant babyface champions on the biggest show of the year everybody!
Bafflingly, we get Ric Flair's entrance for the next match, and then....
Magnum TA music video: Magnum runs down the beach to his mom I'm VERY confused why this was inserted here
Nikita Koloff vs Ric Flair (c)
Nikita is an unstoppable terminator and Ric bounces around, until Nikita crashes into something and it gets worked over, They go back and forth and end in an innocous way they protects both guys. Sound familiar?
Yeah this is basically Flair vs Sting in 1989 except Nikita barely had the personality ot pull it off. Nikita was the Ryback to Flair's CM Punk, which lead to an underwhelming main event.
Post match: We get a pull apart brawl. Meh.
This show had a plethora of great matches. Garvin vs Armstrong was a random sleeper hit, as was Bubba/Ronnie, and the scaffold and First Blood matches were as great as you've heard. But, I can't recommend this show, not now. The Steel Cage match was good, albeit disappointing, the main event was disappointing and the midcard was almost unbearable, and that felt like that got the most time on the show. You're better off watching each of the big matches in isolation and skipping the rest