Skip to main content

Starrcade Countdown: 1987

(2011 Scott sez:  Right away be warned, this is an OLD review and I’m not particularly fond of my writing style at this point.)

The Netcop Retro Rant for Starrcade 87.

· Live from Chicago, IL

· Your hosts are Tony Schiavone & Jim Ross

· This was the first NWA PPV, and the WWF decided to do a pre-emptive strike by putting the first ever Survivor Series on against this on the same night. Guess what the cable companies chose?  (2011 Scott sez:  In fact, the cable companies wanted to choose BOTH and do a double-header because Starrcade was scheduled in the afternoon, but Vince flipped out and threatened to drop Wrestlemania from any cable companies that showed Starrcade at all.  5 of them called his bluff, and they ended up showing Wrestlemania anyway)

· Opening match: Sting, Michael Hayes & Jimmy Garvin v. Eddie Gilbert, Rick Steiner & Larry Zbyszko.

This would be a UWF crossover feud. Sting has just turned face for the first time, leaving Gilbert’s employ. (2011 Scott sez:  Gilbert looks like a genius in hindsight for discovering Sting and associating himself with him enough to make sure he would be on the right side when Sting broke huge.)  A note on NWA PPVs in the early years: The lighting is straight out of ECW hell, and the arena is half-empty. Sting hits a plancha on Rick Steiner out of the gate and we’ve got a ring-a-ding-dong-dandy as the faces clear the ring. Sting is crazy over, even in this early phase of his career. Hayes and Garvin are NOT a team at this point—Garvin is just the token NWA representative. Very Mid-South style tag match, with the heels getting a severe beating until Garvin gets caught in the corner. Sadly, Garvin was the best wrestler on the face team. It’s only from 89-on that he got REALLY, REALLY bad. Speaking of differences, Rick Steiner still had the brains god gave him at this point. An automobile accident would scramble his brains a couple of months after this, turning him into the lovable doofus he’s been ever since. He was more of a generic Eddie Gilbert goon at this point. Larry works in a quick ABDOMINAL STRETCH OF SEVERE DISCOMFORT before Sting gets the hot tag. The heels make short work of him, beating on him some more. We’re running out of time. Sting escapes a Steiner sleeper and gets the hot tag to Hayes. Yes, it’s another katie-bar-the-door pier-six brawl and Hayes hits a bulldog on Larry Z as the crowd goes nutso. Hayes goes for a sleeper and Gilbert nails him off the top rope. Steiner hits a nice belly-to-belly for two, and then Hayes gets a sunset flip on Gilbert and the referee messes up, counting to two and then stopping before the three, even though the bell hadn’t rung yet. Decent enough. **1/2

· UWF Title match: Steve Williams v. Barry Windham.

Okay, whenever someone hits someone in the groin on a leapfrog and I make reference to Barry Windham, it’s because of this match. No real angle to set it up—this was the dying days of the UWF and this was for all intents and purposes the last appearance of the UWF title. Doc and Barry do some mat wrestling, boring the crowd. They trade some suplexes and that goes nowhere. Williams holds onto a headlock tenaciously, surviving a pair of backdrop suplexes to hang on. Crowd is seriously not digging this match—until they do a criss-cross and Windham accidentally headbutts Dr. Death on a leapfrog. Fans scream for Windham to do something, but Barry allows him to recover. Williams walks around clutching his groin to shake off the pain. They do another criss-cross and Windham misses a bodypress and goes flying to the floor. Windham rolls in and Williams goes for the kill, cradling him for the pin. Match was all of about 5 minutes—I guess Williams or Windham got legitimately hurt. Ironically, years later Barry Windham and Dustin Rhodes would lose the tag titles to Steamboat and Douglas...because Rhodes did the Barry Windham job on Steamboat and wouldn’t go for the kill. And who was standing on the ring apron screaming at him to pin Steamboat? Barry Windham. Anyway, this match blew. ½*  (2011 Scott sez:  I’m really not sure if there was an injury involved or just a huge style clash or what, but you’d think that this pairing would have produced a better result.)

· Scaffold match: The Midnight Express v. The Rock N Roll Express. Ah, my very, very favorite type of match...the same type that produced that -**** classic to open Bash 91. Eaton hugs Cornette goodbye before climbing the scaffold. Big Bossman Bubba Rogers the Guardian Angel gives the Bossman slam to Morton (and what a beauty shot it was, too) and that leaves Robert all by his lonesome on the scaffold. Morton mugs Cornette and steals the LOADED TENNIS RACKET OF DOOM and takes it up the scaffold. Gibson has the audacity to blade. They crawl around on the scaffold for a while, and Eaton blades too. Eaton throws powder in the RnR’s faces. For those who don’t know, the object is to knock both guys off the scaffold. Eaton gets the racket and swings away, but Gibson pulls a piece of the scaffold off and nails him. Lane gets knocked to the underside of the scaffold and Morton follows him down as Gibson wales on Eaton with the racket. Lane falls first, leaving Eaton 2-on-1 against the Rock N Roll. They hammer away on him and drive him off for the win. Probably the best scaffold match I’ve seen, but then there’s only been three of any note besides this and they all sucked. Big Bubba climbs the scaffold and challenges Morton, so Ricky hits him in the nuts and runs away. Wow, what a hero. **

· TV title Unification match: NWA World TV champion Nikita Koloff v. UWF TV champion Terry Taylor. This is the reason why all the former UWF TV champions can claim to be former holders of the current TV title. There was some pointless angle behind this, but really the whole point was to bury the UWF in the Crockett Graveyard. (2011 Scott sez:  14 years after this, and the similarities would abound at Survivor Series 2001) Nikita no-sells a bunch of Terry’s stuff. KOOOOOOOOOOO-LOFF. KOOOOOOOOO-LOFF. Who’s next, comrade? Taylor’s offense is having literally no effect. Koloff holds an armbar forever, and goes for the Sickle...but misses and crashes into the corner. You know what would be the coolest thing ever? If THQ had done Revenge and got rid of the fake Japanese fed and put an NWA fed in there—you could have Koloff, Blanchard, AA, Dusty Rhodes, The Rock N Rolls, the Midnights...I would SO buy that game and play it for the rest of my life if I could do my own R n’ R v. Midnights series. Of course, if someone was feeling ambitious, the movesets could quite easily be duplicated using WM2000’s creation system, and Jericho’s tights would work well for the Rock n Roll. The Midnights might be a little tougher, however. Anyway, Taylor controls with some solid stuff, using his brain to avoid Koloff’s power attack, and using Eddie Gilbert to cheat like a mother…trucker. We get the mandatory assisted figure-four, which is like an NWA trademark. Koloff escapes and Taylor collides with Gilbert in the ensuing argument with the ref, Sickle, goodnight Irene. For those of you who weren’t around for Nikita’s glory days, the Russian Sickle was a running lariat out of the corner. Pretty good match once it got going. *** Taylor retreated to the USWA and eventually the WWF shortly after this, because really it couldn’t get much worse...could it?

· NWA World title match: Tully Blanchard & Arn Anderson v. The Road Warriors. This is where everyone thought the Roadies would absolutely, positively, guaranteed walk out with the titles after years of trying. They proceed to manhandle the Horsemen to start out, prompting Tully to run away. They get several two counts before Tully tags in Arn. AA fairs no better and the Warriors look to go for the kill early. The champs are absolutely getting routed. Nasty spot as Animal bearhugs Tully, and Hawk gives Tully a shot from the apron to add insult. Finally, after about 10 minutes of non-stop punishment, Hawk goes for a press-slam on Tully and AA takes the opportunity to clip Hawk, putting the champs back in control. They proceed to cheat outrageously, slamming chairs into his knee and working it. Question: The spinning toehold causes pain to the knee, right? But if you follow through to the figure-four, then the pain is now on the straight leg. Just seems odd. (2011 Scott sez:  It’s SCIENCE, stupid) Arn works in his “try a test of strength but get crotched” spot, leading to the hot tag to Animal. All hell breaks loose and Tommy Young (the Charles Robinson of the 80s) takes a wicked awesome dive out of the ring and may be legally dead. LOD hits the Doomsday Device and Earl Hebner comes in and counts the pin. Okay, kids, if you don’t know who booked this card and what happens next, you have no business reading about old NWA shows. Yes, it’s the dreaded DUSTY FINISH as Tommy Young reveals that he saw Arn being thrown over the top rope, so the Warriors aren’t actually champions after all. Crowd chants “bullshit” at that one. **1/2  (2011 Scott Sez:  I redid this match for the Essential Starrcade rants on WWE 24/7 a couple of years back, and boosted this match to *** at that point.)

· US title match, cage: Lex Luger v. Really, really Big Poochie. If ever anyone earned the Poochie moniker, it’s Dusty Rhodes. I’m shocked he settled for booking himself in the US title match. This is Luger’s title v. Rhodes’ career. That’s hardly a fair trade. Luger is still way green at this point. The first 5 minutes is inexplicably cut out of this one. I have the full match on the Best of the Starrcade 83-87 tape, however, so I’ve seen it. Luger misses the Elbow Which Doth Never Hit and Rhodes goes to work on the arm. Luger comes back and rams Dusty into the cage—and I hope you’re sitting down, cuz here comes a shocking development—and Rhodes bleeds. Yeah, I know, I’m sitting here thinking “Dusty...blade? In what universe?” but here it is, captured on tape: Dusty actually bleeding. Luger hits the Elbow Which Doth Never Hit. Dusty pulls out a dropkick, earning a 0.8 on the Erik Watts Dropkick Scale. Man, that was uglier than Rhodes and his kid combined. Luger gets the Rack, but Dusty is JUST TOO FAT. Who’d have thunk it’d be an advantage to be grossly overweight? I love reviewing Dusty’s’s like shooting fish in a barrel. Seemingly the only reason for the cage’s existance here was to give Big Dust the chance to bleed, because otherwise it’s a standard match and the cage is basically ignored. Luger holds move #193 (ARM-bar) for an extended period of time. Dusty jiggles his fat and makes the comeback. And people think PIPER exposes the business? This fat ass was out there from 1901 until almost the present day before he finally took the freaking hint and retired. But not until he foisted his idiot son on us. (2011 Scott sez:  Man, I was in a bitter place towards Dusty here.  Not sure what Dustin did to earn my wrath at this point, given that he was just in WCW as himself back when this was originally written.)  Rhodes gets the sleeperhold, but Dillon knocks out Johnny Weaver (the keeper of the key) and tosses a chair in for Luger. Luger....slowly....picks....up.....the.....chair, allowing Dusty the time to peel his digusting fat ass off the mat and DDT Luger on the chair (no, that wasn’t contrived or unbelievable in the least, Dusty) for the pin and the US title. Do I seem bitter? *  (2011 Scott sez:  My own personal biases aside, this really was a butt-awful match, with Dusty not the right person to motivate Luger, to say the least.) 

· NWA World title match: Ron Garvin v. Ric Flair. Everyone always asks why Garvin got the title—short answer is “There was no one else”. Flair wanted to lose the title and regain it at Starrcade, but there was no top babyfaces who were dumb enough to agree to be a lameduck champion. So they got Garvin, who was dumb enough to agree to anything. And then because none of the top heels were dumb enough to put Garvin over when everyone knew Flair was just getting the belt back anyway, they all refused to job to him. So Garvin took a “sabbatical”, thus making him a thoroughly useless champion in the eyes of the fans and the bookers. No wonder Crockett went broke. Inspirational babyface Garvin gets soundly booed by the fans. Again, the first few minutes of this match are clipped. And again, the full version is on Best of Starrcade. We pick it up with Garvin delivering the 10 punch count, and then the GARVIN STOMP OF SLIGHT DISCOMFORT! Flair retaliates with the Great Equalizer and Garvin does a terrible selling job. C’mon, Ronnie, you just got hit in the nuts by the dirtiest player in the game, show some emotion! Flair bounces around the body parts for a bit, then settles on the good ol’ knee. Usual stuff...kneedrops, kneebreaker and then the figure-four. Why does Flair let go when Young looks? It’s no-DQ. Oh well, habit I guess. Garvin reverses. Crowd rewards him with a “Garvin sucks” chant. This was 1987, remember, years before ECW trained fans to be that cynical. Flair decides to have a blading contest with Dusty and taps an artery. They fight to the top of the cage but it goes nowhere. Flair gets slammed off the top and Garvin does his own figure-four, which makes no sense because Flair hasn’t sold any knee injuries in this match. Flair of course sells like he’s being stabbed. Flair escapes, but Garvin gets to the top and hits a flying bodypress for two. Backslide for two. Flair refreshes his blade job and they climb to the top again. Flair, of course, gets crotched on the top rope as a result, but when Garvin goes for the SUNSET FLIP OF DOOM, which was the move that gave Garvin the title in the first place, Flair sits down and gets two. Garvin reverses for two. Young gets bumped mildly and Garvin hits the PUNCH OF DEATH for two. Garvin goes for something vaguely resembling a cross between a Thesz press and a bodypress, but Flair falls back and slams Garvin’s head into the cage and gets the pin to put us out of our misery. Hope you enjoyed your one brush with greatness, Ron, you won’t get a second one. Huge pop for Flair. So-so match with a weak ending. **1/2  (2011 Scott sez:  On the bright side, we were THIS close to having NWA World Champion Buddy Landell dropping the belt back to Flair here.)

The Bottom Line: Not really representation of what the NWA had to offer, because none of these matches had a good angle behind them, and the matchups were less-than-ideal right off the bat. A very awkward show for the NWA...not that it mattered, because the buyrate was only something like .0000001 anyway.

Sorry, old school fans, I can’t recommend it in good conscience.