Rock Star Gary reflects on…NWA Battle of the Belts I

Live from Tampa, FL

Airdate: September 2, 1985

Attendance:  7,600

Hosted by Gordon Solie and Mike Graham

Similar to the WWF with WrestleMania, WCCW with the Parade of Champions, AWA with Superclash, and JCP with Starrcade, Championship Wrestling from Florida (CWF) created Battle of the Belts as their supershow to showcase the best wrestlers of the Sunshine State.

After Gordon and Mike welcome us to the show, Coach John Heath introduces himself from one dressing room while Buddy Colt does the same in the opposite dressing room.

Hurricane Elena wrought havoc on the Gulf coast affecting this show tremendously. Examples of its effects continued throughout the show.

Match 1: Chavo & Hector Guerrero versus the “Crippler” Rip Oliver and the Grappler

Highlights:

  • Bachman Turner Overdrive’s “Roll On Down The Highway” brought the Crippler and Grappler to the ring.
  • Just as the bell rang, the lights went out due to an Elena-induced thunderstorm.
  • After giving the Grappler a cross-corner whip, Hector delivered a back drop and a pair of flying headscissors.
  • Chavo intervened and gave the Grappler another flying headscissors.
  • A fourth flying headscissors (performed by Hector) put the Crippler down on the mat.
  • I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Earl Oliver, the nephew of the Crippler and author of Solie’s Vintage Wrestling, was one of the first internet wrestling journalists that inspired me as an internet wrestling journalist. Thanks, Earl!
  • Slam by the Crippler, but he missed an elbow drop.
  • After a double whip by the Grappler and Crippler, los hermanos Guerrero dropped down and mule-kicked their opponents.
  • The Grappler and Crippler tried the same stunt but ate a double battering ram instead.
  • ROWBOAT TIME!
  • In the corner, a right hand by the Grappler sent Hector straight up on the top turnbuckle.
  • The Grappler then sent Hector down to the mat the hard way.
  • As the Crippler tagged in, he delivered an elbow to the back of the neck followed by a back drop.
  • Bear hug by the Crippler. Hector broke the hold but couldn’t tag out.
  • Atomic drop by the Grappler only got 2 thanks to a save by Chavo.
  • As Chavo occupied the anonymous referee’s attention, the Crippler and Grappler double-teamed Hector.
  • Suddenly, the feed went completely OUT.
  • When we return, the Crippler rammed Hector head-first into the top turnbuckle.
  • After the Crippler tossed Hector out to the concrete floor, Chavo helped him back in.
  • As Chavo followed him to tussle with the Crippler and occupy the referee’s attention, the Grappler rammed Hector face-first into a plastic chair.
  • After ducking a clothesline by the Crippler, Hector delivered a cross-body block and got 2.
  • Sunset flip got 2 for Hector on the Grappler.
  • The Grappler gave Hector a slam but missed the diving head butt.
  • Hector reversed a vertical suplex with one of his own.
  • Inside cradle by the Crippler got 2.
  • Hector blocked an atomic drop and delivered one of his own to the Crippler.
  • Hot tag Chavo.
  • After receiving a cross-corner whip, Chavo climbed the turnbuckles and performed a back flip over the Grappler.
  • As Hector mounted the top turnbuckle, Chavo gave the Grappler a huracanrana.
  • Hector leaped off the top turnbuckle with a flying body press to Oliver.
  • On a double whip, Hector locked Oliver in the abdominal stretch as the Grappler ran Chavo into the referee.
  • With the referee down, the Grappler tossed Hector over the top rope to the concrete floor.
  • As the Crippler held Chavo, the Grappler loaded his boot.
  • But when he tried to kick Chavo, he caught the Crippler instead.
  • At the same time that Chavo pulled the Grappler outside the ring to tangle with him, Hector crawled into the ring and pinned the Crippler.

Rating: **1/2

Summary: The high-flying by los hermanos Guerrero made this an exciting tag match that followed the tag formula and received a solid reaction from the crowd.

Match 2: Cocoa Samoa (w/ Lady Maxine) versus the “Hustler” Rip Rogers (w/ Miss Brenda)

Highlights:

  • Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” brought Samoa and Maxine to the ring.
  • For those unaware, Maxine was known for her height as she stood 6’2”. While this may not seem like much, she TOWERED over Cocoa.
  • Some clever female wrestling fans held up a sign that read “Miss Brenda is a flea bag.” HA!
  • Cocoa won a top wristlock battle and got a 2 count.
  • A flip and a mule kick by Cocoa helped him escape from an arm bar.
  • After giving Rogers a cross-corner whip, Cocoa rammed his shoulder into the top turnbuckle on his follow-through.
  • Somersault rollup got 1 for Cocoa.
  • After Rogers tossed Cocoa down to the concrete floor, Maxine went over to protect him from Miss Brenda.
  • After giving Cocoa a snap mare, Rogers mounted the top turnbuckle, got caught, and came down the hard way.
  • Cocoa went for a splash but missed.
  • He reversed a vertical suplex by giving Rogers one of his own.
  • Head butt by Cocoa tied Rogers up in the ropes.
  • As Cocoa dove at Rogers, the latter freed himself sending Cocoa directly into the ropes.
  • That earned Rogers a 2 count.
  • Sunset flip by Cocoa got 2.
  • Three head butts by Cocoa only got 2 thanks to a foot on the ropes.
  • Hip toss and dropkick got another 2 on Rogers.
  • After Rogers missed an elbow drop, Cocoa applied the abdominal stretch.
  • Miss Brenda entered the ring and walloped Cocoa in the head with her purse.
  • Maxine occupied the referee’s attention so he didn’t see it.
  • As Brenda distracted the referee, Rogers picked up Cocoa to slam him; however, Maxine pulled Rogers down by the hair.
  • 1-2-3. Cocoa won.

Rating: *1/2

Summary: Creative finish to a lackluster match.

Match 3 for the NWA Florida title: Jack Hart (champion w/ Percy Pringle III) versus Kendall Windham

Highlights:

  • For those unaware, Jack Hart was none other than longtime WWF and WCW jobber Barry Horowitz. Yes, folks, Horowitz won a title early in his career.
  • He came to the ring to Van Halen’s “Jump.”
  • Windham’s introduction was interrupted by technical difficulties.
  • Hart attacked Windham before the bell and hit a savate kick.
  • Flying leg drop by Hart got 2.
  • Hart missed an elbow, but Windham delivered a nice flying shoulder block.
  • Knee lift was followed by a bear hug by Hart.
  • A quick fact check uncovered that Windham was only 17 here. Does Blackjack Mulligan know where his children are?
  • Backslide by Windham got a 1 count.
  • Quickly, Hart mounted the second turnbuckle and nailed Windham with an elbow.
  • In a move that would eventually become the Horowitz cradle, Hart only got a 1 count.
  • Sunset flip by Windham received no count as Hart sat down on him.
  • Back elbow by Hart got a pair of 2 counts.
  • Abdominal stretch by Hart, but the referee caught him holding the ropes.
  • Hart missed a standing leg drop.
  • He placed Windham on the top turnbuckle, but Windham hit a sunset flip for 2.
  • After receiving a cross-corner whip, Hart tried a cross body block but came up empty.
  • Flying back elbow by Windham.
  • Flying clothesline followed by a knee drop got 2 for Windham.
  • Bulldog blocked by Hart who then went for a foreign object in his trunks.
  • Hart missed with a loaded right hand off the ropes, and fell prey to Windham’s cross body block for the pin.
  • WE HAVE A NEW CHAMPION!

Rating: ***

Summary:  Hart led Windham to a good match and his first title. On the replay, Windham prematurely stopped his cover, but the referee counted three regardless. I hear that’s common among men his age.

Heath interviews former “seven-time” (actually eight) NWA champion Harley Race. As Race runs down the “road hogs,” the audio cuts out. Race is ready for both the Road Warriors and the NWA title thereafter.

Battle of the Belts is sponsored by Champion TV & Appliance Rentals which still exists today. Good for them. It’s also sponsored by Schlitz Malt Liquor. I’m sure CWF received plenty of street cred for obtaining that endorsement.

Match 4 for the NWA Southern title: “Ravishing” Rick Rude (champion w/ Percy Pringle III) versus Billy Jack Haynes

Highlights:

  • Bonnie Tyler’s “I Need a Hero” brought Haynes to the ring.
  • On the flip side, Rude came to the ring to Sade’s “Smooth Operator.”
  • As you would expect from these ripped behemoths, a test of strength took place.
  • Ultimately, Haynes won the test, delivered an atomic drop, and followed with a dropkick.
  • After a leapfrog and backdrop, Haynes went for his finisher—the full nelson.
  • Smartly, Rude hooked the second rope with his foot before it could be completely applied.
  • After giving Haynes a cross-corner whip, Rude rammed his shoulder into the top turnbuckle.
  • According to Gordon, referee Bill Alfonso was qualified as an official for wrestling, boxing, and full-contact karate. Fortunately, he didn’t use a whistle until he went to ECW.
  • Leapfrog and clothesline earned Rude a 2 count.
  • Rude kicked Haynes out of the ring and then whipped him into the railing.
  • Vertical suplex by Rude brought Haynes back into the ring.
  • He then mounted the bottom rope and put a fist in the back of Haynes.
  • Back drop by Rude didn’t get a count because Haynes had his feet in the ropes.
  • Haynes blocked a vertical suplex with one of his own.
  • Rude mounted the top turnbuckle but missed the fist drop.
  • Clothesline and backbreaker by Haynes followed by a gutwrench suplex that got 2.
  • Press slam by Haynes, but Pringle tripped him unbeknownst to Alfonso.
  • Rude got a 2 count out of it.
  • As Haynes grabbed Pringle, Rude grabbed Pringle’s cane, which was conveniently on the apron, and WHACKED Haynes on the back.
  • 1-2-3. Rude won and retained his title.

Rating: ***

Summary:  Pretty good match as Rude was making a big name for himself.

After the match, the crowd chants “BULLSHIT!” Nowadays, they’d chant for the hurricane.

Heath interviews the NEW Florida champion Kendall Windham.

Colt interviews Ellering with the Road Warriors. In a funny bit, Hawk makes fun of Colt for being a chatterbox. Ellering illustrates a good point that Race’s focus is off.

Match 5 for the AWA World tag team titles: The Road Warriors (champions w/ “Precious” Paul Ellering) versus Harley Race and Stan “The Lariat” Hansen

Highlights:

  • In a complete WTF moment, the Olympic theme brought out Hansen and Race. I do not believe that Hansen would qualify for any Olympic event other than chewing tobacco or being crass.
  • As Hansen made his entrance, he tossed a chair into the ring.
  • Of course, Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man” played the Road Warriors to the ring.
  • As expected, the Road Warriors stormed the ring in earnest to destroy their opponents.
  • While Race and Hawk fought at ringside, Hansen and Animal tangled in the bleachers.
  • After setting Animal up against the ring post, Hansen tried to nail him but hit the post. I bet he didn’t even blink twice about it.
  • Before Race entered the ring, he nailed Hawk with Hansen’s cow bell.
  • Hansen then rammed Hawk face-first into the timekeeper’s table.
  • Immediately, Hawk returned the favor.
  • Knee lift and a fist drop by Hawk got 2 on Race.
  • As Animal had Race in a side headlock, Hansen entered the ring. Hawk caught him and delivered a back elbow.
  • Hansen and Hawk spilled out of the ring as Hansen rammed Hawk face-first into the bleachers.
  • He then nailed Hawk with a plastic chair.
  • Immediately, Hawk returned the favor. To borrow a famous quote from Yogi Berra, “it’s déjà vu all over again.”
  • Back In the ring, Animal slammed Race then gave him a knee lift.
  • Race escaped a front face lock with a double leg takedown followed by an elbow drop.
  • Hansen tagged in, gave Hawk a knee drop, and then slammed him.
  • An elbow drop got 2.
  • Slam and standing leg drop got 2 for Hawk on Hansen.
  • Hansen gave Animal a cross-corner whip but missed an avalanche.
  • Outside the ring, Animal made Hansen taste the steel railing. It must have tasted like the Grouper Jimmy at Columbia Restaurant.
  • Animal then shoved Hansen into the ring post.
  • Back in the ring, Hansen countered a side headlock with a belly-to-back suplex.
  • Standing choke by Hawk to Race.
  • Belly-to-back suplex by Race allowed him to tag out.
  • Piledriver by Hansen on Hawk got 2.
  • Vertical suplex by Race got 2.
  • Military press slam by Hawk who then tagged in Animal.
  • Back elbow by Animal got 2.
  • A pair of head butts by Hawk no-sold by Race.
  • Both Hawk and Race tumbled over the top rope to the concrete floor.
  • All four men fought outside the ring.
  • Alfonso declared the match a double count-out.

Rating: ***

Summary:  If you thought this would be a power versus technique match, you’d be wrong. This was hardcore before hardcore became popular.

Colt interviews the NWA World champion. Flair “will take it to (Wahoo) all night long.” Methinks Flair used that pick-up line after a show plenty of times.

Match 6 for the AWA World title: Rick Martel (champion) Frankie Lane versus Nick Bockwinkel

Highlights:

  • Due to post-hurricane issues, Martel could not be in Tampa to defend the title here.
  • Ring announcer Chet Tharp mistakenly referred to Bockwinkel as the AWA champion, although he hadn’t been champion since 2/22/84. Gordon covered for Tharp.
  • Hip toss by Bockwinkel followed by a slam.
  • Lane retaliated with his own hip toss and slam.
  • Cross body block by Lane got 1.
  • Knee to the midsection by Bockwinkel followed by a head-first ram to the top turnbuckle.
  • Lane reversed a cross-corner whip and gave Bockwinkel another hip toss.
  • Back drop by Lane got 2.
  • As both men got to their feet, Bockwinkel nailed Lane low. OUCH!
  • A second cross body block by Lane bounced off Bockwinkel.
  • He quickly pinned Lane.
  • That was odd.

Rating: DUD

Summary:  Travel complications are one of the reasons that cards are “subject to change.”

Heath interviews McDaniel who is wearing the US tag team title belt.

This feed was recorded from KRLD-TV channel 33 in Dallas, TX. I believe I watched this back then on WTOG-TV channel 44 based out of Tampa, FL.

Match 7 for the NWA World title (2 out of 3 falls): “Nature Boy” Ric Flair (champion) versus “Chief” Wahoo McDaniel

Highlights:

First fall:

  • For my Native-American readers out there, McDaniel had a Choctaw lineage according to the New York Times. By 1985, McDaniel was 47 years old.
  • McDaniel ultimately won a top wristlock battle.
  • While it doesn’t happen too often, Flair actually lost a battle of chops which resulted in a Flair flop.
  • Gordon informed us that Flair was “literally born with a silver spoon…” C’mon, Gordon. That’s physically impossible!
  • Flair tried to pin McDaniel with his feet on the ropes until referee Bill Alfonso caught him.
  • McDaniel worked on Flair’s leg until Flair made the ropes.
  • Flair missed an elbow drop so McDaniel continued to work on Flair’s left leg.
  • Flair tried to pin McDaniel with his feet on the corner ropes.
  • After he tossed McDaniel outside the ring, Flair rammed him shoulder-first into the ring post.
  • As Flair held an arm bar, he grabbed the second rope while simultaneously antagonizing the camera man. Now that’s work ethic.
  • Head butt by McDaniel sent Flair down to the mat.
  • Chop off the ropes by McDaniel caused Flair flop #2 and a series of 2 counts.
  • Sleeper by McDaniel pinned Flair. McDaniel led one fall to zero.

Second fall:

  • After a commercial break, Flair regained consciousness but was still woozy.
  • Chop off the ropes got 2 for McDaniel.
  • McDaniel applied another sleeper, but Flair made the ropes quickly.
  • Chop by McDaniel sent Flair back-first over the top rope to the concrete floor.
  • Flair caught McDaniel by his left leg and rammed it into the apron.
  • He then rammed it against the ring post.
  • Toe hold by Flair got a series of 2 counts.
  • Flair then applied the figure-four leg lock.
  • McDaniel reversed the hold causing Flair to escape.
  • Flair tried to reapply the hold, but McDaniel blocked it.
  • Knee drop by Flair followed by an elbow drop got a series of 2 counts.
  • Knee drop #2 got another 2 count.
  • Vertical suplex by Flair got more 2 counts.
  • Abdominal stretch by Flair converted into a cradle for 2.
  • Ref bump as Flair was shoved by McDaniel.
  • McDaniel countered a hip toss with a backslide for no count.
  • Flair tossed McDaniel outside the ring again and rammed him head-first into the ring post.
  • McDaniel was BUSTED OPEN!
  • Once again, McDaniel was rammed into the ring post before being thrown back in.
  • Knee drop #3 got the pin. The match was tied 1-1.

Third fall:

  • After another commercial break, a bloodied McDaniel was ready to continue.
  • Flair tried a vertical suplex, but McDaniel reversed it for one of his own.
  • Once more, Flair tossed McDaniel outside the ring.
  • He tried to ram McDaniel into the ring post yet again, but instead got rammed himself.
  • Make that twice.
  • Flair was BUSTED OPEN!
  • Back in the ring, a Flair flip sent Flair to the concrete floor. Say that five times fast.
  • Sleeper #3 by McDaniel, but Flair kicked the second turnbuckle placing him atop McDaniel.
  • 1-2-3.
  • Alfonso awarded the fall (and the match) to Flair.

Rating: ****

Summary:  Despite a slow and plodding challenger, Flair was able to have a great match with one of his mentors. Parts of this match were rather slow, but none of it was telegraphed to the audience. Bret Hart would borrow this finish against Piper at WrestleMania VIII and against Austin at Survivor Series 1996.

After the match, Heath interviews McDaniel who quickly requests a rematch. Before he leaves the air, Gordon wishes Mike Von Erich a speedy recovery.

Conclusion:  With the great main event, the Florida title victory by Windham, and the Rude/Haynes match, this show definitely earns a thumbs-up from me.

See you for WWF Saturday Night’s Main Event II!

TV Rating: N/A

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