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Starrcade Countdown: 1986

I know you’re thinking “What the fuck are you counting down to?” but don’t confuse me with details.  I kind of felt like doing the 2011 Scott Sez treatment for Starrcade through December, so it’s a countdown, OK?  Better that than a month of crappy WWE December PPVs.

The SmarK Retro Rant for Starrcade ’86: Night of the Skywalkers

- Okay, so this is the COMMERCIAL version of the tape, not the PPV. I have both, but the PPV tape is so deteriorated that I can’t really sit through it anymore. A reader was nice enough to send me a fresh version of the commercial tape, so that’s what you get. You’re not missing much, as there were six matches at each location and they basically took the top half of the card from each. For those who can’t sleep at night without knowing what’s missing, here’s the results of the undercard, courtesy Jason Campbell’s Supercards page…

1. Tim Horner & Nelson Royal beat Don & Rocky Kernodle (7:30) when Horner pinned Kernodle.

2. Hector Guerrero & Baron Von Raschke beat Shaska Whatley & The Barbarian (7:25) when Raschke pinned Whatley.

3. Wahoo McDaniel beat Rick Rude (9:05) in an "Indian strap" match.

4. Brad Armstrong drew Jimmy Garvin (15:00).

5. NWA US Tag Champs Krusher Khruschev & Ivan Koloff beat Bobby Jaggers & Dutch Mantel (9:10) in a "no DQ" match when Koloff pinned Jaggers.

6. Central States Champ Sam Houston beat Bill Dundee (10:24) via DQ.

- Not exactly Bash 89 there.

- Live from Atlanta GA and Greensboro NC.

- Your hosts in Atlanta are Tony Schiavone & Rick Stewart, and Greensboro features Bob Caudle & Johnny Weaver. Who the hell is Rick Stewart, anyway?

- The matches on this tape are NOT in order, by the way.

NWA World tag title, cage match: The Rock N Roll Express v. Ole & Arn Anderson.

Robert dodges Ole and a pier-six erupts early. Arn gets caught in the wrong corner and retreats. Ole comes in, but can’t escape the RNR either. Ricky outguns him with some speed, and the Horsemen regroup again. Arn tries with Morton, but gets reversed to death. Rock N Roll work the arm, but Robert misses a charge and kneelifts the cage by mistake. Ouch. The Andersons just DIVE for the knee and destroy it. Robert kicks out of a figure-four, but Ole keeps up the punishment with a stepover toehold. Arn goes knee-to-knee on Robert and grinds it in. Robert gets an enzuigiri, tags Ricky, and he promptly goes facefirst to the cage to put a stop to THAT. Ricky Morton plays Ricky Morton and all is right with the world. Ole gets two off a snapmare and Arn bites at him. Back to the cage goes Ricky, and Ole methodically stomps away. Ricky bleeds huge. Arn switches to the arm and Ole keeps at it, slapping an armbar on. Hammerlock slam from Arn gets a pop and he goes to the 2nd rope, but gets nailed coming down. Ole comes in and pounds the arm, however, preventing a tag. Shoulderbreaker gets two. Morton kneelifts Arn, but can’t tag. Ole uses a stepover armlock, and Rick fires back, but Ole keeps at the arm. Rick fights back again, but gets double-teamed INCHES from the tag. The crowd is just about ready to riot at this point. He staggers up and walks into a spinebuster from Arn. D’oh. Ole comes off the top with a kneedrop onto Ricky’s arm, but Ricky won’t quit. Double-KO, but Ricky can’t capitalize. He fires away on Arn, lunges for the tag…and Ole nails him, giving the crowd a heart attack. That’s just mean booking. He small packages Ole for two as Robert finally has had enough and brawls with Arn, distracting the ref long enough for the Express to double dropkick Ole and Ricky gets the pin with his last burst of energy to retain at 19:00. CLASSIC Ricky Morton here. ****  (2011 Scott sez:  I’ve actually seen this match nearly a hundred times because I used to put it on Rock N Roll Express compilations for people all the time back when I did that sort of thing and VCRs were still something people used.  Anyway, I still love this match and after watching months worth of Ole & Arn squashes on WWE 24/7 years later, I’m upgrading the rating to ****1/2 because I appreciate them as a team so much more now.) 

- Louisville Street Fight: Big Bubba Rogers v. Ronnie Garvin.

Texas Death rules apply here, as you need a 10-count to win. Garvin does some punching, Rogers does some no-selling. Bubba offer the dreaded test of strength, and Garvin actually makes the babyface side look good for once by simply punching him in the face and sending him out. Nice approach there. Garvin gets tossed a couple of times to burn up some time. Garvin desperately searches for a weapon, and grabs the most obvious and devastating choice nearby: An ice-cold cup of SODA! BUBBA MIGHT BE BLIND! SOMEONE GET HIM A PARAMEDIC, DAMMIT! Okay, well maybe the ice in the drink could’ve landed on the mat and someone could’ve slipped, I dunno. But it MIGHT have been dangerous somehow.  (2011 Scott sez:   Could be worse, could be a WATER BOTTLE) Garvin pounds away on the temporarily Coke-blind Bubba and the crowd goes into hysterics. Man, doesn’t take much to amuse them. Garvin rips open Bubba’s shirt, and now I’m as blind as if Garvin had thrown that devastating soda into MY eyes. Bubba pulls out a handy roll of nickels, possibly his emergency soda money, but seeing as though he already got a faceful of refreshment earlier in the match he decides to simply hit Garvin with them instead. By the way, Jim Crockett was ahead of Vince McMahon in one way in 1986: His videos had the best sound I’ve ever heard for a wrestling video. The Turner group recorded all of the NWA’s shows in high-quality stereo, and even watching today, when Bubba broke that roll of coins, you can actually hear them clinking together as they hit the mat. And as this match goes on, you can actually hear Buddy Rogers rolling over in his grave. (2011 Fwad sez:  HO HO!  IS FUNNY BECAUSE WRESTLING IS NOT VERY GOOD HERE!)  Garvin blades and fights back with a mass of blood on his face as I suspect some clippage here. They brawl outside, and Bubba gets the advantage long enough to head to the top rope, only to get slammed off. Ref is bumped in the process and Garvin does an awful-looking piledriver on Bubba, but Cornette nails Garvin with the tennis racket as the ref revives…and both guys are down for 10. Well, that’s different. Of course, there MUST be a winner, so first man up wins. Bubba claws at Young’s pants to pull himself up, allowing Cornette to sneak in again, nail Garvin a second time, and that’s enough for Bubba to win at 7:55. Wonder why someone hasn’t swiped that finish in the 15 years since this first aired? ½*  (2011 Scott sez:  Dave Meltzer posted his Thanksgiving retrospective article on the Observer site last week, and it actually listed star ratings for this show for the first time I’ve ever seen.  Everything of mine was basically dead on with his, except for this match, which he gave ***3/4.  Goes to show how subjective and ultimately useless star ratings really are.)

- Hair v. hair: “The Boogie-Woogie Man” Jimmy Valient v. Paul Jones.

Valient is pretty much the ultimate example of someone who was never any good lasting many years beyond his worth to the sport, simply because he got a good pop for his entrance. Actually, “hair v. hair” is something of a misnomer here, because Valient had already been shaved bald by Jones a few times that year, so this time it’s Jones’ hair against that of a decidedly cougar valet Valient has, named “Big Mama”. Oh yeah, THAT’ll draw money. Valient gets a hiptoss and uses the FINGERNAIL RAKE OF EXTREME DISCOMFORT to put Jones on edge, but Jones finds an international object and KO’s Valient to take over. I can’t believe Jones is the same guy who used to do awesome matches with Ricky Steamboat as a partner. Guess that shows you who the talent THERE was. Jones stomps away for two, and uses another stomp for two. Valient comes back with some of the worst punches I’ve seen this side of Billy Gunn and hooks a sleeper, but Jones goes for the object again. Valient grabs it, knocks Jones out, and gets the pin at 4:22. I’d call it mercifully short, but I’m hesitant to use the word “merciful” in connection with anything Jimmy Valient. They sure managed to pack some crap into 4 minutes, though. -** Jones is indeed shaved bald, before heavies Rude & Fernandez make the run-in and absolutely pound Valient into silly putty, including a double-team implant DDT on a chair. Valient pretty much took his bow from the sport after that, thank god.

- World TV title, first blood: Dusty Rhodes v. Tully Blanchard.

Dusty, ever on the cutting edge of fashion, has shaved the sides of his head and written “Tully” in black marker on either side. Wonder who drew the short straw and got to do that for him? Hilarious bit to start as Dillon tries to give Tully a wrestling headpiece to wear (to prevent blood), but the ref won’t allow it. So he pulls out a tub of Vaseline and rubs some on Tully’s face, but again the ref won’t allow it. The presence of that tub actually becomes important later. So Dusty grabs Dillon, beats the crap out of him, and splits him open with an elbow to the head, thus establishing that if he does the same to Tully, he’ll win. Tully misses a blind charge right away, hurting his knee. Dusty does some strutting. Stall stall stall. Tully bails, more stalling. Dusty headbutts him and works the knee a little, then switches to a bionic elbow and goes back to the leg. Tully bails, more stalling. Back in, Tully tries the scratch-and-bite method of drawing blood, but Dusty comes back and nails him. Ref is bumped, and JJ’s LOAFER OF DEATH gets involved to no avail. (2011 Scott sez:  Honestly now, who hits someone with a SHOE?) Dusty hammers Tully until he bleeds, but no ref. Dillon (still himself a bloody mess) quickly wipes Tully down, uses Vaseline to stop the cut, and Tully uses a roll of coins to put the Dream down and out to win the TV title at 8:34, as he draws blood. Couldn’t they at LEAST have thought of a different foreign object instead of recycling the roll of coins? (2011 Scott sez:  Someone in TNA probably watched this show and thought multiple fuck finishes in the same PPV was a great idea) Maybe a minute of contact total in the entire match. DUD

- Skywalker match: The Midnight Express v. The Road Warriors.

This match has somehow acquired a historic slant that it doesn’t deserve. The Express takes forever to climb up. They all slug it out while crawling around. Condrey and Eaton both toss powder at the Warriors. Hawk gets close to falling off the scaffold, as does Eaton. Both grab a ladder and hang on, however. Both of the Express blade soon after. Dennis crawl away to escape, so Hawk kicks him in the head and they fight on the ladder. Now Animal and Eaton join them, they chickenfight under the scaffolding, and the Express falls off at 7:16. Cornette climbs up to escape Ellering soon after, and gets knocked off himself, buggering his knee for the rest of his life as a result. *  (2011 Scott sez:  Jim Cornette’s shoot interviews, where he tells the story of this match and his miscommunication with Bubba that led to him getting dropped and injured, are some of the funniest stuff you’ll ever hear.)

- NWA World title match: Ric Flair v. Nikita Koloff.

For those who don’t consider HHH’s knee injury enough of a lesson on the importance of having a backup plan, consider this match. It was supposed to be Flair v. Magnum TA in a can’t-miss huge-money title match where Flair would finally put TA over and make him for good, but Terry proved to be somewhat less talented a driver than he was a wrestler, and wrapped his Porsche around a telephone pole a few months before this and never wrestled again. So lacking anyone else better, they actually used logic for once and gave the shot to the automatic #1 contender, the US champion. Since both guys were heels, they concentrated the promotion of the show on the scaffold match instead, which proved to be a smart move in the long run. To show you what a great heel Flair is, Koloff was a huge Russian monster who hated the US and stole the US title from the beloved Magnum TA…and he’s the de facto babyface here.  (2011 Scott sez:  Watching the shows on 24/7 leading up to this, it’s pretty clear Koloff was a full-fledged babyface by this point, not just one by default.)  That’s why Flair made all that money for Crockett. Koloff overpowers Flair to start, and Flair takes a breather. Flair unloads with chops in rapid succession, but Koloff just shrugs him off and Flair bails again. Back in, Koloff overpowers him again, so Flair lays in the badmouth in PG fashion (“Now I’m gonna kick your butt, you son of a gun!”) and promptly gets hiptossed. He walks into a bearhug and sells it like he’s being crushed by a grizzly bear. Koloff misses a blind charge and Flair hits a LONG delayed suplex, which Koloff no-sells. Match is clipped (about 5 minutes worth) as Flair’s assault on the knee is left on the cutting floor and we move to Flair raking Nikita across the ropes. Koloff comes back and overpowers him again, but gets tossed. They brawl and Flair rams him into the scaffold. Back in, Flair drops the knee for two. Backdrop suplex gets two. Flair pounds on him, which only serves to piss him off even more. Koloff destroys him in the corner with shoulderblocks, a slam and a hiptoss. Flair Flip and they brawl outside. Flair goes to the scaffold himself and blades. Back in, Koloff wins a slugfest, prompting the Flair Flop. Shoulderblock bumps the ref, and it’s the Russian Sickle. No ref, so Flair attacks from behind as a second ref (the very hip-sounding “Scrappy McGowan”) comes in to count two. (2011 Scott sez:  Is it me, or does that sound like a name they’d give some poor schmuck coming up from developmental now?) Another Sickle knocks him out, which knocks Tommy Young out a SECOND time in the process, and he recovers in time to throw the whole thing out as a big brawl erupts at 13:23. Flair is, of course, a miracle worker and Koloff is the proverbial broomstick. ***1/2 (2011 Scott sez:  Fuck that, it was **** or better.  Great match, Koloff was very underrated and watching the 1986 TV made me appreciate this match much more.)  Interesting to note that if you watch this match, it’s pretty easy to pick out many spots that Flair refined and reused for an even bigger and better series of matches two years later against an even bigger guy…Lex Luger. And the finishes to them were stupid, too.

The Bottom Line: Get Best of Starrcade 83-87 instead. Koloff-Flair is good, but no more good than Flair v. Anyone Else In The World. Most of the rest is junk and not worth your time.  (2011 Scott sez:  Except for the two awesome matches that bookend the tape!   Ignore this doofus, it’s a thumbs up show).