Wednesday, February 23, 2022

NWA Starrcade 1985

So Starrcade '84 was a bust. Starrcade '85, on the other hand... not so much. And only because it is the show that features perhaps the most famous and single greatest match in the history of Starrcade and certainly one of the all-time greatest wrestling matches ever conceived.

Tully Blanchard. Magnum TA. Steel Cage. I Quit Match. Nuff said.

Krusher Kruschev defeated Sam Houston in a perfectly acceptable wrestling match to win the vacant  NWA Mid-Atlantic Champion.

Manny Fernandez defeated Abdullah the Butcher in what was billed as a Mexican Death Match as a way to get away from the fact that this is a sombrero on a pole match. Yes, the idea of pole matches existed long before the likes of Vince Russo turned it into a crutch for shitty television.

Ron Bass defeated Black Bart in a Bullrope match to earn five minutes with JJ Dillion. Bass beats up Dillon for a bit before the ref gets bump and Bart hits Bass with a piledriver, allowing Dillon to get the pinfall. This was a thing that happened and quite honestly, nothing of note happened during the Bass/Dillon "match" that you couldn't do with Bart winning... aside from Dillon getting the pin, but really, who gives a shit?

There's an arm wrestling contest between Superstar Billy Graham and The Barbarian that breaks down into a fight that ends in a DQ somehow.

Buddy Landel defeated National Champion Terry Taylor with a leg sweep assist from JJ Dillon to win the title, fail a drug test, and lose the title to Dusty Rhodes a month later before getting shitcanned. This was also a thing that happened.

National Tag-Team Champions Ole & Arn Anderson a.k.a. The Minnesota Wrecking Crew (an AWESOME name for a tag-team, by the way) defeated Wahoo McDaniel & Billy Jack Haynes to retain the titles. Wahoo and Billy were the U.S. tag champs at the time, but those titles weren't on the line here. Probably for the best, because there was no way in hell I felt the Crew were in any danger of losing those titles. I hate the "one guy trips a guy so the other guy can pin him" finish that's been going on as of late on this show. It's kind of irritating.

But none of that shit matters because we've got the only match that matters on this show and pretty much the only reason you'd want to watch this show.

Magnum TA defeated United States Heavyweight Champion Tully Blanchard in a Steel Cage I Quit Match to win the title in what may be the finest match in Starrcade history. It is perhaps my favorite match out of the whole Jim Crockett catalogue and the one stuck with me the most.

Never saw this match as a kid, for obvious reasons... but I do remember seeing as a teenager when it was a featured match on a Best Of Starrcade VHS tape many moons ago. That match stuck with me for a long time, even as years passed. I believe it was featured on the Ric Flair Four Horsemen DVD that WWE put out and honestly, that match held up. But watching it again now and knowing what I know in regards to the circumstances around that match and what came about afterwards, it remains one of my all-time favorites.

Two bitter rivals stuck inside a steel cage, beating the ever-loving piss out of each with their fists, their feets, and everything in between. A wooden chair would be broken and its debris used to cut open the competitors. It is pure, unbridled violence that is distilled to its purest form; a kind of perverted beauty that laid beneath its brutality. And through it all, it was about one thing; giving Magnum TA that big win over his biggest rival up to that point by not only defeating him for his championship, but also inflicting the ultimate humiliation by forcing the champion to utter the words "I Quit" into a live microphone for all the world to hear.

In terms of grudge matches, this ranks way up there. In terms of I Quit matches, this is also top-tier, with Flair-Funk trailing it a bit behind. If this was the main event, it would've been a perfect ending to an otherwise passable wrestling program, with the fan-favorite triumphant over his hated rival in the biggest fight of his career.

Unfortunately, the show continued with Miss Atlanta Lively and Jimmy Valiant against the Midnight Express (Eaton and Condrey, for those wondering). Also for those wondering Miss Lively is Ron Garvin in drag... yes, the same Ron Garvin who, years down the road, would defeat Ric Flair for his first and only NWA World title. You know, I was hoping to watch a good match featuring Bobby Eaton - considering he had recently passed away - and what I ended up with was a glorified "comedy" match that was short on comedy... unless you count Jim Cornette being stripped down to his undies. This match is such an insult to outlaw mudshows that even Vince Russo would balk at such a segment.

Nobody is going to get that.

The Rock N Roll Express defeated NWA Tag Champs Ivan & Nikita Koloff in a cage match to win the titles. Well, it wasn't the bloodbath of Magnum/Tully, but it was certainly good enough to wash the taste of that last match from the palette.

Dusty Rhodes defeated NWA World Champion Ric Flair to win the title... except he didn't... or something. So at some point during this really boring match, the assigned referee gets knocked out and another comes in to count the pin when Dusty catches Flair in a roll-up to win the title... and then he gets stripped of it because reasons. So not only did we get a really boring main event match, but we also got the trademark DUSTYFINISH for kicks!

Starrcade 85 is a step above Starrcade 84, which isn't saying a whole lot because even the absolute dirt-worst indy show would be better than Starrcade 84. While it could be defined as a one-match show - especially considering how famous that show is - there are some other good matches and the show went by fairly smoothly until the latter third, with a good tag title bout sandwiched between two loafs of shit. Good show for the most part, even with its sour points.

I'm done with Starrcade for now. I've seen 86 and quite honestly, it's not that good... so next week is something else.

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