These long, philosophical introductions that attempt to tie into the show I just watched are getting difficult to write. So, let’s just cut to the chase, huh?
I have never seen the following show, but I reckon that it will be similar to the previous Starrcades I have watched thus far. That means it can fall on two completely different sides of the spectrum.
The attempt of the NWA for cool spelling isn’t a great start.
PAY PER VIEW NUMBER EIGHTEEN: NWA STARRCADE 1988: TRUE GRITT
Written on 9/15/2014
THE FIRST THING YOU SEE: An intro video plays with Ric Flair doing a voiceover and clips of Lex Luger’s “victory” at Great American Bash shown. That is followed by a preview of Barry Windham vs Bam Bam Bigelow (?!?!) and the Road Warriors against Dusty, who talks crazy. The title and “gritt” is shown. There is no reason for that.
-We are live in the Norfolk Scope, which always makes me think of mouthwash. Some sluts are shown and Tony Schiavone handles the introduction while his moustache handles looking like shit. He is joined by Magnum TA, who confidently talks about the evening. They pitch it to Jim Ross and Bob Caudle at ringside. JR handles the heavy lifting, previewing five title matches.
-Varsity music hits, bringing out Kevin Sullivan and Steve Williams. Once again, I missed that turn. Caudle’s talking is thankfully drowned out by the dubbed theme. The Fantastics enter with sequined blue and pink outfits. So many hugs are received!
-Gary Michael Cappetta (who will be referred to as GMC from now on) is the ring announcer and Teddy Long is the referee. Sullivan is billed from Singapore? The Fantastics are the champions again and they get a slightly better reaction, even though some male boo birds still exist.
MATCH NUMBER ONE: US TAG TITLE MATCH- The Varsity Club vs The Fantastics (Champions)
-Teddy Long looks like a giant crackhead with that haircut.
-Bobby Fulton hits a second rope Thesz Press early on. That looked neat.
-Sullivan hits some overhand chops with his blond Kevin Smith look.
-Jason Hervey is shown in the crowd. Eric Bischoff isn’t blowing him there.
-The Fantastics hit a double monkey flip out of the corner on Williams. It really affects him because Doc military presses Fulton six times and hits a sick lariat afterwards. Early MVP of the PPV candidate status for Dr. Death.
-God, the people shown in the crowd are unfortunate looking.
-Fulton claps on the apron as Tommy Rogers is double clotheslined. Poor timing.
-The pacing and segues of this match have been off. The babyfaces have had a double team oddly end with Williams getting the advantage twice now.
-Doc runs in place on a delayed vertical suplex. That is impressive.
-Teddy Long is the current LVP of the PPV. His counting is off. He doesn’t appear to be a good ref.
-At least Williams shows some power and viciousness during a bearhug.
-This match is too back and forth if that is possible. Sullivan gets his knees up on a top rope splash attempt by Rogers.
-JR sells Sullivan as a skilled amateur wrestler that is just sick in the head. I think that character could still work today (cut to a terrifying picture to Brock Lesnar).
-A chinlock on Rogers last through two clap rallies from the crowd.
-Sullivan introduces the double stomp to the world. He is very stubby, so it looks devastating.
-Fulton gets the hot tag and Rogers helps 10 seconds later. Long term selling!
-The action breaks down and, despite the fracas, this finish is pretty clean.
WINNERS: The Varsity Club in 15:50 to win the titles when Steve Williams pins Bobby Fulton after a Hot Shot.
-Stop calling Kevin Sullivan “the Gamesmaster.”
-Schiavone and Magnum handle the replay for some reason.
FINAL WORD: What an abrupt, weird match. There were some impressive spots, but it fit like a puzzle with nothing but corner pieces.
-The Midnight Express vs Midnight Express match is previewed as well as Ivan Koloff and JYD versus the Assassins. If the heels lose, Paul Jones retires!!! I won’t be impartial at all. The TV Title match is also previewed as Magnum think Rick Steiner is the premier wrestler in the world at the moment.
-The dubbed Midnight Express theme plays and good old Paul E. Dangerously leads Randy Rose and Dennis Condrey to the ring. None of these men should be in pink. The theme keeps rolling as Jim Cornette, Bobby Eaton and Stan Lane storm to the ring and jump Rose and Condrey with back drops. Corny takes his jacket off and goes after Paul. It is weird seeing him as a big face. It is also weird seeing Paul Heyman with hair.
MATCH NUMBER TWO: The Original Midnight Express w/Paul E. Dangerously vs The Midnight Express w/Jim Cornette
-Condrey and Lane start and Dennis ends up on the floor soon after. Corny gets a LOUD racket shot in and Paul rings the bell, livid as hell.
-JR calls Bill Apter the Bob Newhart of wrestling photographers. I don’t think that is correct.
-JR calls the inverted atomic drop the move of the National Chiropractic Association. Sheesh, these references SUCK.
-Rose takes a racket show as well. Hearing the commentators support these cheap shots is so weird.
-Rose looks like a trailer park boyfriend.
-A nice slugfest develops between Eaton and Condrey. Eaton nails a flying elbow soon afterwards.
-Can Stan Lane teach Nikolai Volkoff the spinning roundhouse kick?
-It is funny that Eaton is considered a groundbreaking aerialist and he looks like a Cabbage Patch Kid.
-Eaton and Lane hit a nice leapfrog/cross body combination. Think Haas and Benjamin.
-Eaton is crotched in the corner and the heels take over nine minutes into the match.
-Paul E. looks like a street singer at Magic Kingdom.
-Paul E. gets a cheap shot on Eaton and Cornette chases him through the ring. You can feel the real hate.
-Eaton gets compared to Bear Bryant simply because he is from Alabama.
-Dennis Condrey and Jim Neidhart are “Shouldn’t Have Spent Their Careers in Pink and Purple Gear” first ballot Hall of Famers.
-The heels miss the Rocket Launcher and Lane gets the hot tag with five minutes left in the time limit.
-Lane hits some sweet kicks and an even sweeter dance. He out-Ghetto Blasts Bad News Brown.
-Dangerously hits Lane with his phone and Cornette finally gets his hands on him.
-Teddy Long counts to two, but sees the phone in the ring. When did the referees start listening to the crowd? Meanwhile, Cade and Murdoch just got their finish idea.
WINNERS: Stan Lane pins Randy Rose in 16:46 after the Midnight Express hit the Hi/Low or “Double Goozle”.
-The heels hit Cornette with the racket and Lane and Eaton get nailed with the phone. A big beatdown ensues until Eaton recovers and chases them away. That, folks, is effective storytelling to set up next month.
FINAL WORD: Did Tazz get “goozle” from the Midnight Express? That aside, a nice little tag match that showed how underappreciated Lane and Eaton are today.
-JR and Caudle recap the show thus far. God, it is so hard not wish for Caudle to get hit by a train.
-Magnum is backstage with the Varsity Club. The audio didn’t work at first, but it hits just in time to hear Steve Williams try a gravelly approach with his promo. Sullivan takes over and helps the situation. Mike Rotunda immediately becomes the worst promo in his family’s history with his brief words.
-The Russians are in the ring and the worst synth song ever plays for JYD and Ivan Koloff. Teddy Long is still the referee. Paul Jones gets loud boos for his introduction and his stupid Russian jacket. Ivan Koloff getting cheered is weirder than a dog ordering food verbally.
MATCH NUMBER THREE: RETIRE AND UNMASKING ON THE LINE- The Russian Assassins w/Paul Jones vs Ivan Koloff and Junk Yard Dog
-Again, why did Ivan turn heel? I don’t get any background because the commentators don’t talk about it.
-JYD gets right into the dog stuff early on.
-The Assassins looks like the Conquistadores sponsored by McDonald’s.
-Russian on Russian violence looks about right.
-Ivan’s second rope Sickle was surprising.
-Ivan’s sunset flip was surprising.
-After a short advantage, the Assassins miss a double team on JYD.
-GMC seems bored announcing the time elapsed at ringside.
-The faces are already firmly in control again.
-Ivan hits another Sickle, but fucking Paul Jones sticks his moustache into this.
WINNER: Russian Assassin #2 pins Ivan Koloff at 6:45 after Paul Jones passed a foreign object to Assassin #1 and he gave Koloff a headbutt.
FINAL WORD: It’s getting to the point where I’m starting to think that Paul Jones was quietly ruining WCW PPVs in 1991 and 1992, too.
-Caudle blatantly uses a sheet of paper over and over again to recap the three matches he just watched and JR easily talks about them from memory. A cage is lowered for someone to be isolated in.
-Rick Steiner is out quickly and JR keeps talking about some “Alex” that I’m unaware of. The same varsity song from earlier keeps rolling and Mike Rotunda enters with Sullivan. They keep showing this awful fan in the crowd with signs printed off of a 1980s computer printer. Sullivan is raised in the air because that gimmick had mileage in this era.
MATCH NUMBER FOUR: TV TITLE MATCH- Rick Steiner vs Mike Rotunda (Champion) w/Kevin Sullivan
-Very little reaction for the introductions isn’t a good sign to start.
-Both men are wrestling in amateur gear, but start the match pushing and punching each other. The crowd responds by barking.
-Was Michigan versus Syracuse a real rivalry?
-Stop showing Jason Hervey!!!
-Nice story to start of Rotunda being unable to break a side headlock by Steiner.
-STEINER FUCKING LINE. No one does it better. Rotunda asks for a timeout afterwards. That might be legit.
-Who the fuck is Alex?
-Sweet, seamless drop toe hold by Rotunda followed by Steiner immediately getting a hammerlock back on soon after.
-Caudle kills any good comment JR makes.
-The next PPV is on a Monday. The Wars before the Wars!
-Dick Beyer gets love on commentary for training Rotunda.
-Alex is his imaginary friend drawn on his hand?!?! The crowd chants something and Steiner dances along. I don’t want to see that again.
-There has been too much stalling after ten minutes of action.
-Steiner takes a sick bump in between the ropes. JR sells it right because it looks like he really landed on his head.
-Rotunda takes over with a back drop and a chinlock.
-JR keeps talking about Steiner wanting to win for his mother. Scott is probably driving her crazy at home.
-Rotunda has been the champion for almost a year. #LongTermBooking
-Rotunda hits his own sick clothesline on Steiner. That will soon be called the Write Off.
-Five minutes is left in the time limit. Rick’s clothesline just gets better with time. I think it is enough to make him MVP of the PPV. Dr. Death walks to ringside.
-Steiner hits a powerslam and Rotunda weakly kicks out. Steiner hits a big belly to belly and Williams rings the bell to confuse everyone, including the referee. Great…more Dusty booking.
-Tommy Young runs out. This is so stupid. The cage is lowered as some Joel Gertner looking guy in the crowd flips a bird.
-This match will continue with two refs who will both count to three for some reason.
WINNER: Rick Steiner in 18:01 to win the title after Mike Rotunda is thrown into Kevin Sullivan on the apron.
-Steiner goes nuts at ringside and sells the moment like a great, happy madman wonderfully. The crowd pops big and JR calls it the upset of the year.
FINAL WORD: Go figure. The fake finish was unnecessary. I’m glad the ending was satisfying this time, though.
-Schiavone and Magnum talk about the two title changes thus far and three more title matches on the horizon.
-Is this an edit? Someone is in the ring and Bam Bam Bigelow enters with Oliver Humperdink in an outfit I still want to see fellow Swoggle Squad member Rich in. Barry Windham is already in the ring for some reason.
MATCH NUMBER FIVE: US TITLE MATCH- Barry Windham (Champion) w/JJ Dillon vs Bam Bam Bigelow w/Oliver Humperdink
-Bam Bam is billed as 390 pounds. He doesn’t look like it. Windham looks much better with longer hair and facial hair.
-Props to Bam Bam and JYD for wrestling on WrestleMania and Starrcade in the same calendar year.
-LOUD punches to the face by Windham.
-Bam Bam hits a very unique stomach buster on Windham, who was in the fireman’s carry position. Think of it as a backwards Shock Treatment.
-Windham hits an impressive belly to back and Bigelow no sells it, intimidating Barry out of the ring. He went to the Luger and Sting school of selling.
-Bam Bam with an impressive military press slam, Windham then joins the club of delayed front bumping, of which Greg Valentine is the president. Bigelow follows up with a great dropkick. He is making his MVP of the PPV case as well.
-The NWA loves heels getting their asses kicked for 10+ minutes.
-Bam Bam is dumped outside and lands on his knee. JR brings up his history for knee problems immediately.
-Huh? Bigelow hits his slingshot splash, but gets up from the count on two. He motions that he wants the title. You had it won, dummy!!! The crowd is totally taken out of the match. What a bad babyface move.
-Bam Bam attempts a top rope splash and naturally misses.
-Windham hits an enormous lariat after cockily slapping Bam Bam in the face.
-There are several seconds between spots, but the pace is meticulous. The spots that happen are impressive and the charisma and hot crowd help overall.
-Barry locks the claw on and jaws with everyone in the crowd. This is great heel work.
-Windham hits a big slam and the crowd seems to start supporting him. He misses a very big and impressive top rope elbow. He has to be a MVP of the PPV candidate now.
-Both men fly over the top rope in Windham’s traditional cross body spot.
-Both men are rammed head first into the post, but only one hits secondly.
WINNER: Barry Windham in 16:14 by countout to retain the title.
FINAL WORD: Like many Starrcade matches, this needed a better ending, but everything leading up to it was very good.
-JR and Caudle provide another recap and put over the effort of the previous combatants hugely.
-Magnum is backstage with Rick Steiner. Is he Eugene? If so, he is great at being stupid. Steiner confirms his MVP of the PPV status. The audio cuts out, but it comes back just in time to hear Steiner being greatly moronic. Magnum is so nice to poor Rick. I love Scott, but I may have to switch my allegiance to Rick.
-Dusty Rhodes and Sting enter in somewhat matching white and blue gear. The camera keeps showing Road Warriors signs. LOD enter with black spikes and the tag titles. They don’t seem to be heels, but they run over to the faces.
MATCH NUMBER SIX: NWA TAG TITLE MATCH- Dusty Rhodes and Sting vs The Road Warriors (Champions) w/Paul Ellering
-Dusty and Sting quickly thwart LOD’s attack and THEN GMC does the introductions.
-Ellering looks ready to go on safari.
-The vocal males chant LOD. Very little booing exists.
-Sting and Animal begin the match. Sting gets the early advantage with a dropkick.
-Dusty tags in with a big elbow and jiving. Hawk enters the ring and it is very funny to watch him loudly sell like a heel.
-Hawk stomps a mudhole into Sting in the corner.
-It is always called the military press slam now. Never Gorilla.
-LOD love hitting a move, posing, then getting hit when they turn around.
-Sting dives from the top rope to the floor and gets some SERIOUS distance. Go to Vince, you fool!!!!!
-Dusty has looked totally off in this match. Every time he gets involved, he drags the action down. He might be the current LVP of the PPV.
-Dusty loudly sells, then starts dancing in a comeback. Animal helps Hawk out, then digs at Dusty’s face and bites him.
-Dusty started wrestling in 1967. The 1970s HAD to be fun for him.
-Sting gets the hot tag and Stinger Splashes Animal before setting up the Scorpion Death Lock. Hawk interferes and throws Sting over the top rope, behind Tommy Young’s back.
-A big kerfuffle breaks out, Dusty gets a low blow on Animal and Sting hits a flying cross body. Now it is time for the LOD to act like heels.
WINNERS: Dusty Rhodes and Sting at 11:16 via DQ when Paul Ellering runs in and attacks the referee at the count of two.
-The skirmish continues after the bell and the babyfaces, if you can really tell the difference, get the advantage and raise their hands to a big pop. Imagine if they actually won the belts.
FINAL WORD: Yet another good match ruined with a bad finish. Not even Milli Vanilli’s record repeated itself as many times as I do when talking about NWA booking.
-Schiavone and Magnum promote the main event and reveal that Flair will lose the title if he gets DQ’ed. Tony calls Flair “Mr. Starrcade.”
-Cool, 80s style strong music plays and Luger runs out. Where did his 90s song used at the Bash go? That said, I like this song as an alternative to the actual cool song he used in this era. Flair’s theme brings the crowd to its feet and four fingers are in the air. The Nature Boy struts out in a green robe. There is a good feeling in the air.
-GMC nails the introductions. This only has a 45 minute time limit. Weird. Luger gets a Cena-like reaction and Flair’s reaction is simply louder in general.
MATCH NUMBER SEVEN: NWA TITLE MATCH- Lex Luger vs Ric Flair (Champion) w/JJ Dillon
-JR talks about Lex being down 13 pounds. He probably just took a big shit.
-Flair’s first WOO: drawn out and right in Luger’s stupid face.
-Flair belts out a second WOO after catching himself on the ropes. He flexes and teases Lex and then releases a third WOO. Lesson: when Flair’s opponent sucks, he WOOs more to make up for it.
-LOOOOOOOOOOUD first chop. Flair gets cocky and clotheslined over the top after his fourth WOO two minutes in.
-Lou Thesz is shown waving to the camera in the crowd. He is smiling despite having to watch Lex Luger wrestle.
-JR talks about Luger being recruited by Joe Paterno. He hopefully wasn’t recruited by Jerry Sandusky.
-Tommy Young was named the NWA Referee of the Year. How was that even a kayfabed award?
-Flair’s fucking chops! I thought Roderick Strong was bad.
-Lex hits a sloppy powerslam, then a big military press.
-Flair goes arm first into the corner and doesn’t do the flop that I expect.
-It took Luger six minutes into this match to no sell a chop. Sting would be getting a better reaction doing it. The match translates into a lot of arm work.
-The crowd is getting cooler and cooler on Lex. Only a few sluts shriek when he flexes.
-Nice sequence with Luger catching a second clothesline for a great two count.
-Flair batters Lex on the floor. Back in the ring, Flair pushes Young, who pushes back.
-Luger’s chest would be beet red if it wasn’t already that color from steroids.
-Flair hits a standing double stomp. He’s stealing Sullivan’s shit!
-Luger bounces his boobs after starting to no sell chops once more. If that only happened once a match, it would be much more effective.
-Good allusion by JR: if wrestling is art, Flair uses oils and the other wrestlers use water colors.
-Great small package nearfall by Luger.
-Flair climbs to the top! Caught with a superplex! All-time record for Flair on the top: 3 for 9. That was another good close call.
-Luger applies the Figure Four on Flair. This has gotten really good.
-Young is inadvertently elbowed by Luger. Flair throws Lex over the top rope and avoids the DQ. Luger responds with a CROSS BODY from the top rope which Young is late to count for, so it’s only two.
-Luger keeps suplexing, pressing and powerslamming Flair. He finally calls for the Rack and JJ distracts the ref.
-Flair goes right after Luger’s knee and Lex is bleeped yelling “SHIT!”
-Flair hits a sick kneedrop on Luger’s knee and immediately slaps on the Figure Four.
-A loud Luger chant erupts and Flair starts slapping him in the face. Lex flexes and almost explodes, reversing the hold.
-Flair is caught AGAIN from the top rope with a military press. All-time record for Flair on the top: 3 for 10.
-Luger is “running on adrenaline” and sells the leg after another press. He gets another nearfall with a sunset flip.
-Flair hits a running forearm and Lex doesn’t budge while Flair eats shit. Very good and funny.
-Another ten punch in the corner and Luger clothesline. Flair keeps kicking out.
-Lex calls for the Rack again. He gets Flair up, but the leg buckles!!!!
WINNER: Ric Flair in 30:55 to retain the title after Lex Luger’s leg buckles in the Rack and Flair lands on him, pinning him with his feet on the ropes.
-Luger argues after the bell that Flair cheated and JJ denies it. There is ten minutes left in the show.
FINAL WORD: What a great main event match. Luger held up his end of the deal and Flair was the fucking deal.
-Tony recaps the match and puts over Luger’s effort. JR and Caudle talk about Luger earning respect more and more with every match. Yeah…but he keeps LOSING. In the background, GMC announces the first ever Bunkhouse Stampede Battle Royal as the commentators talk. There is a dark match main event on a PPV? I guess because a heel won the main event. I see a ton of people still leave.
-Magnum is backstage with JJ and Flair. Flair puts the NWA over as a “man’s sport” and talks about not following the rules. It is a great promo interrupted by GMC announcing in the ring. He finally stops and Flair says Luger won’t ever get a shot at the title again. Flair also states that “money is not a problem for the World Champion” Ouch…don’t remember that one, Naitch.
-Tony talk about the NWA being a national power as the decade nears its close. He continues to blabber about nothing. Why isn’t the show just ending? It’s been great. Don’t overstay the welcome!
-JR and Caudle onscreen again. Audio problems creep up again and their words are played over the arena speakers. They talk about Rick Steiner not understanding being champion, promoting the February PPV as JR signs off. The recap video plays and I officially learn that Alex is a puppet drawn on Rick Steiner’s hand.
THE LAST IMAGE: Ric Flair pinning Lex Luger with Tommy Young’s fist in the air.
THE WRAP UP
FINAL MVP of PPV: I’m officially sorry I once insinuated Rick Steiner only ate dog food. He is so outstanding on this show.
FINAL LVP of PPV: I didn’t think Dusty Rhodes could be as fat, lazy and boring as he actually looks.
MY FAVORITE MATCH: Ric Flair vs Lex Luger
MY LEAST FAVORITE MATCH: Ivan Koloff and JYD vs The Russian Assassins
WWE HALL OF FAMERS IN ACTION: 6 (Junk Yard Dog, Barry Windham, Dusty Rhodes, Hawk, Animal, Ric Flair)
DEARLY DEPARTED IN ACTION: 5 (Steve Williams, Russian Assassin 1, Junk Yard Dog, Bam Bam Bigelow, Hawk)
FINAL THOUGHT: There are definitely tiers to Starrcade. This finds itself with 1983 and 1986 as opposed to 1984 and 1985. The matches are almost all very good, the stories told are easy to follow and it goes by quick. MULLET RECOMMENDS
NEXT TIME: I finally Rumble on PPV. Royally. I better not see Jason Hervey’s stupid face in the crowd.