Thanks to http://www.digits.com for their badass righteous free counters
Here's your concept. Take the top tag teams from all the various NWA affiliates, seed them, shove them together and have yourself a tournament. It was split into two parts, on back to back nights. If you've got a hankering for tourney brackets, check out the Wrestling Supercards and Tournaments page. The 2nd annual cup is the one that you're interested in. Few of the tournament matches even approach mediocre, but two of the singles matches are why we're here. More on that later.
We open with a video package, showing highlights of a show that we haven't even started watching yet. The winner of the tournament is also revealed, though I'll spare those of you who like surprises by not telling you who it is. This video is also the only place you'll get to see a bunch of these people in action, as not every match is shown. Those that are, are also clipped and joined in progress. So I'm not going to even bother with match times.
Your host for the show(s) is Tony Schiavone, before he became an unemployed shill. This is, by the way, taped on April 10-11 from the Baltimore Arena in Baltimore, MD.
1. "Superstar" Bill Dundee/The Barbarian v. Tim Horner/Mike Rotondo Rotondo? Rotunda? Rotundo? Po-tay-to? Po-tah-to? Anyway, we're JIP as Dundee rams Rotondo into the railing at ringside. Rotondo slowly gets to his knees and Dundee kicks him in the head. Rotondo fires back with a chop and Dundee bumps backwards at least ten feet. He had a ton of experience in Memphis, so exaggerated bumps are second nature to him. From the apron, Barbarian kicks Rotondo in the back of the head. Rotondo is staggered, allowing Dundee to regain control. Horner tries to come in, but the referee (Earl Hebner) holds him back. Barbarian pulls Rotondo into the ring and whips him into the ropes. He nails him with a Kick of Fear, though it was just called a big boot in the no-frills '80s. He makes the cover, but Rotondo escapes at two. Barbarian grabs a rear chinlock. Rotondo manages to get to his feet and elbow his way free.
They do the double clothesline spot and both guys are down. Barbarian is up first, slamming Rotondo and climbing to the top. He goes for a diving headbutt (his finisher at the time), but Rotondo rolls to safety. He tags in Horner, who proceeds to take out both heels, eventually ramming their heads together. He tries to whip the Barbarian into the corner, but it's reversed. Horner hops onto the second rope and takes Barbarian down with a crossbody. Dundee and Rotondo begin brawling, distracting Hebner and breaking his count. Hebner tries to escort Rotondo back to his corner as Horner gets Barbarian in a sleeper. Hebner's back is turned, allowing Dundee to run in and nail Horner with a foreign object. Barbarian makes the cover and the heels advance.
This wasn't very good. Which is odd, because all four guys were fairly decent (yes, Barbarian could once be carried to a watchable match) at the time. I think it was more an issue of two teams that were thrown together at the last moment, lacking any time to gel with their partners before they were thrown into the ring. I used to be a big fan of Horner when he was teaming with Brad Armstrong as the Lightning Express. But after they split, Horner kind of fell off the map. I remember him doing occasional jobs in WCW, but otherwise, I'm not really sure.
2. Jimmy Valiant/Lazortron v. Shaska Whatley/Teijho Khan (JIP) Wow. Haven't seen some of these guys in awhile. Lazortron is also known to you as Hector Guerrero. He's the World Juniors champ at this point. Teijho Khan is another guy that just kind of fell off the map. Good thing, because I don't recall him being very good at all. Anyway, when we join the match, Khan is crisscrossing the ropes. Lazortron leapfrogs him and nails him with a dropkick. Khan backs off and makes the tag to Shaska. He locks up with Lazortron and headbutts him. He backs him into the heel corner. Khan holds him and Shaska knees him in the ribs. He goes for a second, but Lazortron moves and Khan is knocked to the floor. Valiant comes in and the faces give Shaska a double atomic drop. Khan runs in and takes one as well. He collides with Shaska and they both bail out of the ring. Valiant and Lazortron do some boogying in their absence.
Shaska and Khan come back in on opposite sides of the ring, thinking that they can trap Lazortron between them. They both charge him. He, of course, ducks out of the way and the heels collide again. Valiant tags in. He kicks Shaska in the gut, but goes down after taking a headbutt. Khan tags in and climbs to the second rope. He nails Valiant with a double axe handle. He adds a chop and goes for the cover. Valiant escapes at two. Khan continues to work him over with punches and chops. He takes him down with a headbutt and tags Shaska back in. He misses an elbow drop. The camera doesn't catch Valiant making the tag. Lazortron comes in and nails Shaska with a dropkick. He catches Khan with a European uppercut when he tries to run in. He goes for an Irish whip, but Shaska reverses it, sending him into the ropes. He avoids Shaska and takes him out with a flying forearm. He makes the cover, but Valiant and Khan are brawling, distracting the ref. Lazortron complains. Shaska gets back to his feet and charges him. Lazortron backdrops him over the top rope, causing an automatic DQ.
Ugh. This was pretty much awful. Throw in a lame ending and you have a nightmare of a match. I don't have many good memories of Valiant in the ring. But he could cut a hell of a promo back in the day. It seemed like most of his NWA tenure was spent feuding with the Paul Jones Army. Which wasn't good, since Jones wasn't drawing the world class talent into his stable. After all, "feud with the Boogie Woogie Man" isn't the best job description you can find. Also, I would be remiss if I didn't point out that the NWA misspelled "Khan" as "Kahn" in the postmatch graphic.
3. Ivan Koloff/Vladimir Petrov v. Bob/Brad Armstrong (JIP) The Russians give Bob a double slam as the referee tries to keep Brad in his corner. Ivan makes the cover, but the "Bullet" is out at two. Petrov tags in. He sure is jacked up. Even moreso than I remember him. Makes guys like Luger look absolutely tiny in comparison. Anyway, he chokes Bob in the ropes, then nails him with an elbow to the back of the head. Bob tries to come back, but Petrov knees him in the gut and locks him in a bearhug. Armstrong tries to punch his way free, but the ref gets on his case about it. He finally nails him and Petrov stumbles into the Russian corner. Koloff tags in.
He whips Bob into the ropes, but misses a clothesline. Instead, they collide and both guys go down. Brad Armstrong tags in. He backdrops Koloff and gives him a nice dropkick. Petrov runs in and Brad nails him as well. Koloff reverses an Irish whip, but Brad scores with a crossbody. Petrov breaks up the count. Brad locks Koloff in a sleeper as Bob and Petrov brawl. The referee escorts Bob back to his corner. Petrov quickly takes advantage, nailing Brad with the Russian chain. He wasn't quick enough though, as the ref sees him and calls for the bell. Armstrongs advance.
This was actually fairly decent. Petrov sucked, but he wasn't in the ring all that much. I don't have too much of him on tape, so I can't say this with any real authority, but still…he might be the single worst worker that I've ever seen. He seemed to be flummoxed by even the most basic stuff. He's the perfect example of a musclehead who has a "look," but nothing else. On the other hand, Brad Armstrong has always been a tremendous worker who was never really given any sort of extended push in the "big leagues." When he finally was, he became a horrible imitation of his little brother. It was easy to see that he was no more comfortable doing it than I was watching it.
That's the end of the 1st round. Here are the results of the matches that didn't make the tape:
Thunderfoots 1&2 beat Bobby Jaggers & Rocky King
The teams of Dusty Rhodes/Nikita Koloff, Rick Rude & Manny Fernandez, The Road Warriors, The Midnight Express, Giant Baba & Isao Takagi, Rock n' Roll Express, Arn Anderson & Kevin Sullivan and Tully Blanchard & Lex Luger all received byes into the second round.
4. Midnight Express (W/Jim Cornette) v. Jimmy/Ronnie Garvin (W/Precious) They pair off and brawl to start. The Garvins whip the Express together. Ronnie goes after Cornette, who ends up caught between him and Precious. He tries to escape into the ring, but Ronnie catches him by the foot. Bobby Eaton then grabs his arm and they play tug-o-war with him. On the other side of the ring, Stan Lane pokes Jimmy Garvin in the eyes and tosses him to the floor. He helps Eaton yank Cornette into the ring and Ronnie Garvin is left holding a shoe. A pink shoe. Jimmy Garvin comes back in and Cornette has to leap back to the floor to escape him. Eaton tries to hit him with the tennis racket, but Garvin kicks him in the gut and grabs it. The Garvins chase Eaton and Lane to the floor and the match clips. Suddenly, Jimmy Garvin is down with Eaton dropping knees on him. He makes the tag to Lane, who comes in with a savate kick. For a long time, his was the best in the business.
He rams Garvin into Eaton's knee, then tags Eaton back in. He drops Garvin with a back elbow and picks up a two count. Then he slows the pace, grabbing an extended rear chinlock. Jimmy gets back to his feet and Eaton pulls him into the heel corner, making the tag to Lane in the process. Jimmy shoots Eaton into the ropes and leapfrogs him, causing him to collide with Lane. Ronnie comes in and punches anything that moves. He backdrops Eaton and nails him with a KO punch that sends him rolling to the floor. Ronnie follows him out and tries to give him a piledriver on the floor. Cornette absolutely nails him in the back with his racket. Brutal shot. Ronnie crumples to the floor. Eaton rolls back into the ring and Hebner starts his count. Jimmy tries to roll Ronnie back in, but he's too late as Hebner calls for the bell. Ronnie recovers and the Garvins run the Express to the back. They show a replay and when we get back to live action, Ronnie smacks Hebner and chokes him. Jimmy quickly pulls him away.
Well, we're starting to get a bit better in terms of match quality, as the upper card guys start to appear. Still, this was clipped in such a way that makes it tough to actually get into. The same goes for most of these matches. Take out the meat of the match and you take out a large part of what makes a match good. Also, I can't forget to mention that this is one of, if not the first time that Lane and Eaton comprised the Midnight Express. Both versions were great, depending on what you're interested in. Condrey was a much better worker than Lane, but Lane had a certain flashiness that really complimented Eaton well. Condrey was anything but flashy. But my advice is to get as many of their matches as you can and decide for yourself. It's worth the time, trust me…
Other 2nd round matches that didn't make the cut:
Rude & Fernandez beat the Thunderfoots
-Robert Gibson comes out as it's announced that Ricky Morton was injured a few days earlier. They think he has a detached retina. Obviously, the R n' R Express is forced to withdraw. The crowd isn't so pleased by that announcement.
5. Big Bubba (W/Jim Cornette) v. Ole Anderson (Steel Cage Match) This is the main event of night one. For whatever reason, they're also using Texas Death match rules (No DQ, 10-count wins). Ole attacks before the bell, as the rules are being explained. The match is clipped and Ole is "hurt," which has always been Schiavone's euphemism for being busted open. They do nothing of note for the entire match except trade punches. Ole goes down and Bubba climbs to the top. He misses a splash though. Ole gives him a piledriver. Both guys are down. Ole manages to get up. Bubba does not. So Ole wins the match.
This is an awful match. Bubba was pretty good back in the day, but he's just atrocious here. Kick, punch, kick, punch. The piledriver is literally the first, and last wrestling move of this match. NEXT!
-Magnum T.A. joins Schiavone in the studio. As a special bonus for this tape (And a tribute of sorts, I would imagine), they'll highlight three of Magnum's biggest matches:
6. Magnum T.A. v. Wahoo McDaniel (US Title, Cage Match) This is from 3.23.85, almost a year after Wahoo had originally taken the strap from Ricky Steamboat and turned heel in doing so. They start slowly, circling each other cautiously. They finally lock up and Magnum takes him down with an armdrag. Wahoo immediately complains to the referee about a hair pull. They lock up again and this time Wahoo comes out on top, scoring with a side headlock takedown. He works the headlock until Magnum rolls on top of him. Wahoo is forced to go to a rope break, even though he's the one on offense. They face off and Wahoo goes right back to the side headlock. He gives Magnum a lowblow, causing Magnum to go down hard. Wahoo starts laying in some chops (his major offensive weapon). Magnum fires back though, dropping Wahoo with a series of punches. They face off again. Wahoo grabs Magnum by the hair and forces him into the corner. He rakes his eyes and Magnum blindly swings away at air.
He goes back to chopping him, then rams him into the cage. Magnum is busted open. They start trading punches and Magnum drops him with a forearm. The crowd is really starting to heat up. Magnum makes the cover, but Wahoo escapes at two. Magnum grabs an armbar and really cranks on it. He takes Wahoo down and covers him for another nearfall. He nails Wahoo with a dropkick. He pulls him up and tries to slam him. Wahoo counters though, quickly rolling him up into a small package for two. They trade punches and Magnum rams him into the corner. Then he tosses him into the cage and Wahoo goes down. David Crockett is getting rather excited, as you might expect. Magnum rakes Wahoo's eyes and hits a fistdrop. He forces him into the corner and starts punching away at him. He adds a headbutt, but takes as much damage as Wahoo does. He staggers around for a bit, then goes back to the attack. Wahoo is waiting though. He grabs Magnum's tights and uses his forward momentum to toss him into the cage.
Wahoo again tosses him into the cage, then chops him down for a nearfall. He continues to go for the pin, getting four near falls in succession. He slams Magnum and drops an elbow on him for yet another two count. He backs Magnum into the ropes and goes back to chopping him. He whips him into the ropes, but sets for a backdrop a bit too early. Magnum kicks him, but is too worn down to capitalize. Wahoo rolls him up, but Magnum escapes at two. He catches a second wind and is the first guy up. He starts to punch away at Wahoo, but takes a shoulderblock to the gut. Wahoo rams him into the corner. Magnum staggers into another corner and catches Wahoo with a series of kicks as he tries to charge in. Wahoo climbs the ropes, apparently trying to escape the cage. Magnum will have none of that, yanking him off the cage and giving him a super backdrop suplex.
He goes for the cover, but Wahoo manages to kick out at two. They both struggle back to their feet and Wahoo levels Magnum with a chop. He goes for the cover, but Magnum is in the ropes. Wahoo gives him a backbreaker and drops a pair of chops on him. He covers him once again, but Magnum makes it to the ropes once more. Wahoo grabs a side headlock, but Magnum immediately shoots him into the ropes. They collide and Magnum goes down. Wahoo gets overconfident, deciding to go for another tackle. Instead, he charges right into a belly to belly suplex. Magnum makes the cover and wins his first US Title. The crowd is totally into this one by the end, popping huge for the belly to belly.
I really enjoyed this match. It wasn't anything brilliant, but it really built to the finish well and they had the crowd eating from their hands by that point. Wahoo is another guy that I haven't seen enough of, as his peak years were before I became a fan. I was a big fan of Magnum T.A. though. His rise pretty much coincided with my birth as a wrestling fan. He was one of the first guys I was really into. Sadly, his career was cut short within two years of that time.
7. Magnum T.A. v. Kamala (W/Skandor Akbar) (US Title Match) This is from Great American Bash '85, held outdoors in the Charlotte Memorial Stadium. Kamala jumps Magnum before the bell, as Tommy Young is checking Magnum for foreign objects. He rams Magnum into the corner and chops away at him. He whips him into the ropes, looking for another chop. Magnum ducks it and scores with a crossbody. Actually, he bounces off of him, but Kamala still goes down. Magnum starts pounding on him and Kamala rolls to the floor (or ground, actually) to escape. He confers with Akbar, then rolls back in. He challenges Magnum to a test of strength. Magnum locks knuckles with him and Kamala suddenly goes for a chop. Magnum sees the swerve coming though, as he blocks the chop and nails Kamala with a punch. He starts working Kamala over in the corner, but a poke to the eyes slows him down.
Kamala picks him up and drops him across the top rope. He adds a few more chops and a short thrust kick to the gut. Magnum is busted open. You can tell that Dusty was his friend, because he sure did like to bleed a lot. Even worse, he'd blade off of stupid stuff like a single chop to the head. Anyway, Kamala continues to lay in the chops. He chokes him in the ropes for a bit, then locks in a dreaded nervehold. He gets Magnum's shoulders down for a few near falls, but Magnum won't stay down. Akbar distracts Young allowing Kamala to choke Magnum again. Young breaks it up and Kamala goes back to the nervehold. Magnum manages to get to his feet, but Kamala chops him back down and splashes him for a nearfall.
He lays in some more chops, sending Magnum face down. Kamala splashes him again and goes for the cover. Unfortunately for him though, he forgets to roll Magnum over. He needed Slick to teach him how to make a proper cover. Kamala gives up on that, since Young has no intention of counting. He goes back to choking Magnum, then locks in the nervehold once again, picking up another pair of nearfalls. Magnum struggles to his feet and punches his way free. Kamala fires back with more chops to remain in control. He whips Magnum into the corner, but misses a splash. Magnum slams him, then nails Akbar when he tries to come in. Young apparently DQs Kamala here, though I didn't hear a bell. Magnum gives Kamala a belly to belly and counts the pin himself.
This was better than I expected. I sometimes forget that Kamala was half decent at one time. He could be carried to a watchable match, if given the right opponent. On this night, Magnum was the right opponent…
For the next match, I'm going to cheat and copy my original review of the match from my old "Best of Starrcade 83-87" review. Ignore my references to WCW, as they were still alive, if not thriving at the time I wrote this. This also covers the complete version of the match. The version on this tape is clipped though…
8. Magnum T.A. v. Tully Blanchard (W/Baby Doll) (I Quit Cage Match) This is from Starrcade 85:The Gathering. It's for Blanchard's US title.
Blanchard pushes Magnum into the corner to start. Magnum takes him down with a punch. Tully gets a single leg takedown. They have a stalemate, with both guys having a brief advantage on the mat. Blanchard hits a pair of forearm uppercuts, but Magnum comes back with punches. They brawl briefly, with Blanchard eventually being driven onto the ring apron. Magnum tries to bash Tully's head into the cage, but he manages to escape, hitting an elbow. He drives Magnum into the cage, and you can see him blade as he falls. Blanchard slows things down, grabbing a rear chinlock.
Magnum tries to power out but takes a knee to the ribs. He reverses a Blanchard whip and press slams Tully throat-first onto the top rope. He hits another series of punches, but Blanchard manages to ram him into the cage. After a short brawl, Magnum returns the favor, throwing Tully into the cage. He grabs a hammerlock and again throws Blanchard into the cage. Blanchard's shoulder is busted open and Magnum goes to work, digging at it. He grabs the mic, but Blanchard refuses to quit. They brawl back and forth, with Tully eventually taking control. He grabs the mic, gets directly in Magnum's face and starts screaming "SAY IT." Very dramatic. Magnum won't quit so Tully hits him with the mic.
Blanchard then goes for the pin. Unlike EVERY single WCW stipulation match nowadays, Tommy Young refuses to count a pin. That's like revolutionary or something. Anyway, Magnum gets thrown into the cage again. Tully climbs the ropes and hits a Bionic-like elbow from the top. He gets the mic again, but Magnum refuses to quit. Tully drops an elbow but misses on a second attempt. This allows Magnum to take control, but he can't get Blanchard to quit. They roll around on the mat, and it legitimately looks like Tully is trying to rip out Magnum's eye. They're both on their knees, trading punches. Magnum grabs the mic again, but Blanchard kicks it out of his hand.
They brawl into the corner and Magnum hits a series of punches in the corner. Tully retaliates with a BRUTAL looking inverted atomic drop. He grabs the mic again, but decides that bashing Magnum with it is more important than the win. He drops a series of elbows, then casually flicks referee Tommy Young halfway across the ring. Baby Doll throws a wooden folding chair to Tully who smashes it against the mat, breaking it into pieces. He grabs a piece, kicks Tommy Young again and tries to drive the rather sharp looking piece of wood into Magnum's forehead. Magnum manages to power out, hitting several knees to get Tully off of him.
Magnum grabs a piece of the chair and grinds it into Tully's head while asking him if he wants to quit. After a few seconds, Tully says yes, giving Magnum the win and his second US title reign. After the match, in one of the best scenes I've ever seen in a wrestling ring, Magnum grabs the piece of chair again and walks toward Blanchard.
Blanchard is kneeling on the mat, shaking and basically cowering in fear. Magnum looks at him, drops the chair, grabs his belt and walks away. It totally shows the character of both men. Even with the level of hatred they had, Magnum, in the end, was the better man and he knew it. Tully was shown to be the coward that everyone knew he was.
It's things like this, the subtle nuances, that both companies have trouble with today. WCW being the bigger transgressor, of course. Wrestling today lacks drama. You can honestly believe that these two were out to maim one another. Anyway, I'd always read that this match was great, and one of the most brutal matches ever. All I have to say is...everyone was right. Both guys were awesome in this match. The selling was top notch, with the match slowing down as it went along instead of a giant flurry twenty seconds after a move which should have knocked your opponent unconscious.
There was no "wasted motion." What I mean is, there was no place in the match where they had to set up a ridiculously convoluted spot. They were brutal the way REAL people would be brutal. They didn't drive each other through tables, they tried to tear each other's eyes out. That's the way real people fight. It's why this match still seems brutal, fifteen years later.
This is a true classic, and if you haven't seen it, find a copy...NOW!
-Back to the studio with Magnum and Schiavone. Tony asks Magnum for a tourney prediction. Magnum cops out and goes with his buddies, the Superpowers (Rhodes/Koloff). Now it's time to go back to the tourney…
9. Midnight Express (W/Cornette & Big Bubba) v. Road Warriors (W/Paul Ellering) -- In this round, they show the entrances, then jump ahead in the match. So we get to see the Warriors' impressive entrance. I remember being scared of them when I was a kid. They'd literally beat the hell out of the other team before the intros were finished. How awesome is that? Unfortunately, the mighty have fallen, as they're wont to do. But I digress. When we join the match, Animal is whipping Eaton into the ropes. Eaton ducks a clothesline, but can't avoid a powerslam. Eaton backs off, slowing Animal down with a poke to the eyes. He makes the tag to Lane, who comes in with a savate kick. He goes for an Irish whip, but Animal reverses. He takes Lane down with a back elbow. Lane rolls to the floor, where Cornette reminds him of the million dollar prize. Lane rolls back in as Animal makes the tag.
Lane and Hawk lock up. Hawk nails him with a forearm to the back, then follows up with a gutwrench suplex. He climbs to the second rope and comes off with a clothesline. He makes the cover, but the referee (Mike Atkins) is distracted. Eaton comes in and kicks Hawk in the head before climbing to the top. He leaps off and punches Hawk in the head. Lane chokes him in the ropes for a bit, until Atkins catches him and pulls him away. Lane distracts him, allowing Eaton to choke Hawk and Cornette to nail him with his racket. Eaton tags in. He punches away at Hawk and starts to bite him. Atkins pulls him away, again getting distracted in the process. Lane chokes Hawk, then snaps his throat across the top rope. Animal gets fed up and comes around the ring to stop him.
Atkins is (you guessed it) distracted. Lane sneaks into the ring and drops an elbow on Hawk. The camera shows Cornette, who has a big grin on his face. Things finally settle back down as Hawk and Eaton pair back off. Eaton whips him into the ropes and catches him with a flying knee. He tags in Lane, then draws Animal into the ring. The Express are too slow to take advantage though. So Eaton distracts Atkins once again and Lane tosses Hawk over the top rope. Ellering rolls him back into the ring. It's Cornette's turn to distract Atkins. Eaton nails Hawk in the chest with the racket. He stays in illegally, though the ref is so confused that he doesn't even notice. Eaton kicks Hawk a bit low, sending him down. He moves in to pick him up and Hawk fires back with a lowblow of his own. He can't make the tag though, as Eaton cuts him off. He tags Lane, who drops a leg. He nails Hawk with another savate kick and goes for the cover. Hawk's kick out sends Lane all the way to the floor.
He quickly rolls back in and tags Eaton while holding Hawk's leg, cutting him off from a tag. Eaton nails Hawk with a stiff right, then whips him into the corner. He charges in behind him, but runs into a boot. Hawk finally makes the tag and Animal runs wild. He backdrops Eaton and nails him with a dropkick. Eaton bumps into Atkins, sending him to the floor. Animal covers Eaton, but there's no ref. Lane comes in, but Hawk tosses him back out and follows behind him. In the ring, Animal whips Eaton into the ropes. He hits him with a flying shoulderblock and again goes for the cover. Still no ref. Cornette comes in and tries to fireball Animal. Ellering grabs him at the last second though, causing the fireball to miss. He picks up the racket and starts nailing everyone in sight. The ref sees him and DQs the L.O.D. They run the Midnight Express to the back. The Express advance though, knocking out the previous Crockett Cup winners. Crowd chants "bullshit" at the finish…
This was the cream of the crop as far as tourney matches went. The Express put on a heel clinic, even though they were new partners. They didn't do too much in the way of double teams which is sad because they're the all-time greats. The Road Warriors still had the "bad ass" aura at this point, so even though they weren't the greatest workers, they could pretty much fudge their way through matches, relying on smaller guys to bump around and make them look good.
10. Rick Rude/Manny Fernandez (W/Paul Jones) v. The Superpowers When we join the match, Rhodes is in the process of hitting a crossbody on Fernandez. He makes the cover, but the "Ragin' Bull" escapes at two. Rhodes slams him and drops an elbow. Fernandez gets to his feet and Rhodes blasts him with a Bionic Elbow, sending him into his corner for a breather. They lock up again. Fernandez headbutts Dusty and drops him with a punch. He follows up by dropping a series of knees on him. Dusty rolls to the floor. Fernandez draws Koloff (who's wearing a neck brace) into the ring, distracting the ref (Teddy Long). Rude is quick to take advantage, ramming Rhodes into the ringpost. Long starts his count and Rhodes is still staggered at five. Fernandez reaches out and nails him though, stopping the count. Dusty rolls back in and Fernandez whips him into the ropes. He drops him with a back elbow and covers him for two. Tag to Rude, who comes in punching. Koloff tries to come in, but Long holds him back. As Long's back is turned, Fernandez comes back in. He stomps on Dusty as Rude makes sure that the ref remains distracted.
Koloff gives up on getting into the ring, deciding to chase Paul Jones around ringside instead. Long tries desperately to regain control, forcing Fernandez back to his corner. He misses Jones getting in a cheapshot on Dusty though. Rude slams Dusty and climbs to the top. He comes off with a forearm to the head and makes the cover, picking up a nearfall. Tag to Fernandez. He keeps things simple, taking Dusty down with a series of punches. Dusty tries to come back, but the "Ragin' Bull" cuts him off and grabs a rear chinlock. Long checks Dusty, but the arm only drops twice. He gets to his feet and Fernandez whips him into the ropes. Dusty ducks a clothesline and comes back with one of his own. He covers Fernandez, but Rude breaks it up. Koloff is in as well. He and Rude brawl to the floor as Fernandez goes back to work on Dusty. He climbs to the top and nails him with a crossbody. Dusty rolls through though, picking up the win.
I remember being really confused when Rude and Fernandez won the NWA Tag Belts from the Rock N' Roll Express. They hadn't (that I can recall) been pushed as anything particularly special to that point. But they scored the upset and went on a pretty good run as champs. Rude was really growing into a great worker at this time and Fernandez was always one of those solid midcarders that Crockett seemed to have a ton of. Not great workers necessarily, but always able to hold their own against whomever they faced. That pretty much describes this match. Solid. Nothing special, but there was nothing really bad about it either.
11. Armstrongs v. Tully Blanchard/Lex Luger (W/J.J. Dillon) Luger and Brad lock up. Luger grabs an armbar and quickly tags Tully. He comes off the top with an elbow to Brad's exposed arm. He rams him into the corner, then whips him into the opposite corner. He charges in behind him, but Brad sidesteps him and Blanchard ends up nailing his shoulder on the ringpost. Brad knocks him down with a punch then comes off the top with a dropkick. He goes for the cover, but Blanchard escapes at two. Luger charges in, pulling the ref away from the action. Tully takes advantage, shooting Brad into the ropes. Dillon is there waiting, yanking down the ropes and causing Brad to tumble to the floor. Bob comes over to protect his son, but does more harm than good, as the ref escorts him back to his corner and allows the Horsemen to work Brad over.
Blanchard comes out and rams him back-first into the railing. He comes off the apron and nails him with an elbow. He finally pulls him back into the ring and gives him a backdrop suplex for a nearfall. Tag to Luger, who whips Brad into the ropes. He takes him down with a back elbow and picks up a two count. He follows up with a suplex and goes for the cover once again. Brad gets a foot on the rope to break the count. Luger tags Blanchard. He goes for a hiptoss, but Brad counters into a backslide. Blanchard is out at two. Brad gives him an atomic drop, sending him directly into Luger. With both guys down, Brad is finally able to make the tag to "Bullet" Bob.
Luger also tags in. Bob takes control, pounding on Luger in the corner. Blanchard runs in, but Bob takes him out as well. Tully comes back, whipping Bob into the ropes. Dillon trips him up and Brad comes in. Everyone pairs off. Brad nails Luger with a gorgeous dropkick. Meanwhile, Bob slams Blanchard and makes the cover. Hebner is too distracted by the other two guys to make a count though. Dillon hops onto the apron. He and Blanchard give Bob a double clothesline behind Hebner's back. Blanchard makes the cover and the Horsemen advance.
This was decent for what it was. As I said earlier, Brad was a great worker. Throw him in with the Horsemen and you get good a good match. Actually, the most interesting part of the match for me is watching how little Luger has progressed as a wrestler in the past 15 or so years. There's no difference from this match and his last run in the WCW. He could sell, but anything else seemed beyond him. It's a shame, because there are a few small glimpses that show that he could have been a decent worker if he wanted to be. But he was unfortunate. He was seemingly always in a program with a guy like Flair, Steamboat or Sting. A guy who could carry him to good matches. It gave him no reason to develop his skills, because he never had to work for a decent match. He just went along for the ride.
-Quarterfinal matches that you missed: None, though Baba & Takagi advanced due to the Rock N' Roll Expresses withdrawal. That would have been a match for the ages. Ricky Morton versus Giant Baba. Oh my…
12. Superpowers v. Midnight Express (W/Cornette & Big Bubba) When we join the action, Eaton is tagging Lane. Dusty starts going wild, nailing anything that moves with a Bionic Elbow. He really catches Bubba with a stiff shot. To their credit, the Express can line up to take a bunch of elbows almost as good as the Horsemen did. Anyway, the Express bails out and Dusty celebrates. Koloff tags in as Lane re-enters the ring. They lock up and Lane grabs an armbar. Koloff quickly reverses. Cornette distracts Teddy Long, allowing Eaton to break the hold by coming off the top with a double axe handle to Koloff. Eaton then tags in. He snapmares Koloff and drops an elbow on him. He goes to work on Koloff's injured neck, dropping a knee on it. He tags Lane, who gives Koloff a swinging neckbreaker. He drops a leg across his throat and starts choking him. He makes the tag to Eaton, who chokes Koloff in the ropes.
That draws Dusty into the ring. Long is distracted, allowing Lane to choke Koloff in the ropes. Bubba manages to slip in a cheapshot as well. Eaton gives Koloff another snapmare and picks up a nearfall. He grabs a rear chinlock and starts grinding his forearm across Koloff's ear. Koloff eventually makes it to his feet, but Eaton yanks him down by the neck brace. Dusty comes in and the Express switch illegally. Lane picks Koloff up and drops him across the top rope. He works over the neck a bit more and tags Eaton back in. Dusty runs in again and Eaton takes advantage, choking Koloff with Cornette's racket. Koloff tries to come back, taking Eaton down with a shoulderblock for two. Dusty runs in yet again. The ref is distracted and Lane comes in. He holds Koloff. Eaton goes for a flying knee, but Koloff slips free and Eaton knocks Lane to the floor. The camera misses it, but Koloff hits Eaton with a Russian Sickle to get the quick win.
Postmatch, Cornette throws a temper tantrum like only he can. They kindly show us a replay of the finish, from a different angle. It seriously looks like Koloff is trying to kill Eaton with that Sickle. He just nails him with it. Anyway, I liked this match. Strong psychology with the heels working over Koloff's neck forever. Plus, Dusty pretty much stayed out of the way, basically acting as a distraction so that the Express could really get over the neck work with some double teaming.
-Semifinal match that didn't make the cut: Blanchard & Luger beat Baba & Takagi. I want to see the epic Luger/Baba matchup as well. Tremendous.
13. Ric Flair v. Barry Windham (NWA Title Match) (JIP) When we join, Windham nails Flair in the gut. Flair fires back with a chop. They trade punches and chops back and forth, with Windham eventually taking control. Flair begs off, but Windham shoves him into the corner. He lays in a series of punches and biels him out of the corner. He goes for a dropkick, but Flair sidesteps him and locks the figure four. He uses the ropes for leverage, until Tommy Young catches him and breaks the hold. He and Flair get into their typical shoving match and Young threatens to award the match to Windham. Flair quickly backs down. He whips Windham into the corner, but catches a lariat on the rebound. Windham is up first. Flair begs off, backing into the corner. Windham follows him in and takes a kick to the gut for his troubles. Then Flair nails him with a back elbow that sends him over the top.
Windham goes down hard, hitting the railing. Flair follows him out and tries to piledrive him on the floor. Young warns him that he'll be immediately DQ'd if he does so. So Flair drops him and rolls back into the ring. Windham gets back onto the apron and drives his shoulder into Flair's midsection. He rolls him up with a sunset flip and picks up a two count. Flair comes back, going for a hiptoss. Windham counters into a backslide for another nearfall. Flair rolls to the floor for a breather. He comes back in and forces Windham into the corner. We get another slugfest, with Windham once again taking control. He takes Flair down and gets another nearfall. He continues to punch away at Flair from the mount. Flair manages to roll onto the apron. Windham brings him back in with a suplex, then floats over into a nearfall. That's one of my all-time favorite moves and I've never seen anyone pull it off as smoothly as Windham.
He climbs to the top and goes for an elbow. Flair rolls to safety and goes for a figure four again. Windham quickly rolls him up in an inside cradle for the nearfall. They start trading punches again. Windham takes Flair down with a tackle. He goes for a second, but Flair sidesteps him and grabs a sleeper. Windham quickly escapes though, falling forward and sending Flair head first into the corner. He nails him with a punch that sends Flair over the top rope and to the floor. Windham follows him out. He rams him into the railing several times and goes for a piledriver. Flair backdrops his way free. He rolls Windham back in and climbs to the top. He scores with a crossbody, but Windham rolls through into a nearfall. Big pop for that, especially after Dusty scored a win with that earlier in the tourney.
Windham whips Flair into the corner. He bumps over the top and onto the apron before collapsing to the floor. Windham follows him out once again, but takes a lowblow. Flair tries to suplex Windham back into the ring, but he slips away and locks Flair in a sleeper. He rams Flair into the corner, then goes right back to the sleeper. Flair goes down, but manages to reach the ropes to force a break. Windham pulls him to the center of the ring and tries to splash him. Flair gets his knees up though. He climbs up top, but spends a bit too long jawing with the crowd. Barry cuts him off and slams him. He locks Flair in the figure four, but releases it after Flair pokes him in the eyes. He powerslams Flair and picks up a nearfall. He goes back to the figure four, but Flair stops him.
They start trading punches and chops once again. Flair scores with a crossbody, sending Windham to the floor. Flair follows and tries to post him. Windham blocks it. As Flair celebrates in the ring, Windham climbs to the top. He nails Flair with a dropkick and gets an apparent win. Tommy Young restarts the match though, as he sees Flair's foot in the ropes. Windham nails Flair with a clothesline and suplexes him. He floats over into a cover once again, but can only get two. He goes for the figure four, but Flair kicks him into the corner. He takes him down with a side headlock and they do the "bridge out of a pinfall" spot. Backslide by Windham gets two. Flair goes for a backdrop suplex, but Windham rolls through and shoves Flair into the corner. He rolls him up, but Flair grabs his tights and rolls through. He hangs onto the tights and gets the win.
I love this match to death. It's definitely on my personal top ten favorite match list. I've pimped Windham as being better than Flair (for a short time, anyway) in the past and I stick by that. He's one of the most frustrating wrestlers that I've ever watched. You just knew that he could smoke anybody that they put him in against, but for whatever reason, he never reached his full potential. This match is another one that I'd call "classic." I haven't seen their match from the 2nd "Battle of the Belts," nor their famous draw from television. So I'm not going to say this was the best of the Flair/Windham series. If it hadn't been for the Savage/Steamboat match from Wrestlemania III and the first Wargames though, this would have easily been in competition for match of the year.
14. Superpowers v. Tully Blanchard/Lex Luger (W/JJ Dillon) They introduce Magnum T.A. before the match, which I believe is his first live appearance since his auto accident. He's definitely choked up as he hugs the Superpowers. If there was any doubt who was going over, this scene should pretty much erase it.
When we join the match, Koloff whips Blanchard into the corner. He takes him down with a choke, then clothesline him over the top, bumping to the floor with him. Dillon runs over and yanks Koloff's neck brace off (finally). Dusty continues to do more harm than good, complaining to Hebner. This allows Luger to work Koloff over on the floor. He rolls him back in and gets the tag. He nails Koloff with a back elbow and chokes him. He makes the tag to Blanchard, who immediately goes for the pin. Koloff is out at two. Blanchard focuses on the neck, hitting a swinging neckbreaker for two. Dusty runs in and the Horsemen are able to double team Koloff. Luger makes the cover and gets a nearfall. He drops him across the top rope and tags Blanchard back in. Tully goes back to the neck. Koloff tries to come back, but Blanchard tags Luger and cuts Koloff off from making a tag.
Luger stomps on Koloff and gives him quite possibly the stiffest clothesline that he's ever thrown. He drops a series of knees to the back of Koloff's neck and tags Blanchard back in. He comes off the top, driving an elbow into Koloff's neck. He grabs a rear chinlock. Koloff snapmares his way free, but Blanchard cuts him off from the tag. Luger tags in. He nails Dusty, drawing him into the ring. The Horsemen take advantage, double teaming Koloff some more. Luger shows how technically proficient he is by putting Koloff in the first and probably last front chancery that he's ever used. He tags in Blanchard as Dillon distracts Hebner. Tully tosses Koloff over the top rope. Dusty runs in again and Dillon nails Koloff with his shoe. Blanchard continues to pound on Koloff's neck and slingshots him throat first into the bottom rope.
He goes up top, but Koloff manages to catch him with a shot to the gut when he comes off. He finally makes the tag to Dusty. He runs wild, giving the Horsemen a ton of Bionic elbows. He takes Blanchard out with a shoulderblock. He goes for a second but misses, bumping to the floor. All four guys start to brawl. In the ring, Blanchard tries to give Koloff a piledriver. Dusty climbs to the top and catches him with a crossbody. Hebner is in the right place for the first time in the entire tourney, counting Tully down and giving the Superpowers the Cup and more importantly, the million dollar prize that goes with it.
Good match to close the show. Once again, the psychology was spot on, as you'd expect with Blanchard calling the shots. The Horsemen never deviate from working on Koloff's neck. It's such a simple gameplan. But sometimes being simple is the best way to tell a story. It's easy to get into this match because it's so realistic. Take the weak link, break him down and keep him from tagging out. Koloff does a great job of selling here. Of course this match is a letdown after the incredible Flair/Windham match. But they did what they could and by the end, the crowd was eating from their hands. And in this situation, with Magnum coming out before the match, the right team won. They sent the fans home happy, which is all that matters in the end…
Other than the "I-Quit" and Flair/Windham matches, there's nothing really worth tracking down here. It didn't seem like anyone was going out of their way to put on a great show here. Of course, if you want to see either of those matches, you're better off finding the full versions (I assume that you can find the complete Windham/Flair match somewhere). They're both **** + matches and really debunk the myth that wrestling in the 80s was boring. At its best, wrestling is wrestling is wrestling. It goes beyond a time period or country of origin. A great wrestling match is a transcendent experience that will take you away from whatever thoughts or preconceived notions you have going in. It will bury you in the story of the match and, for a few minutes, make you forget about the outside world.
These two wrestling matches are great and you really need to see them both if you want to call yourself a wrestling fan. After all, to the surprise of many newer fans, wrestling existed long before Stone Cold and will last long after he leaves. You owe it to yourself to track this stuff down. To witness the foundations of what today's sport is built upon.
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