NWA World Championship Wrestling, December 28, 1985

A big year for Jim Crockett Promotions comes to a close with a jam-packed Saturday night program that will include NWA World Champ Ric Flair putting the title on the line against Ronnie Garvin and the final Superstation Championship Challenge Series matchup: U.S. Champ Magnum T.A. facing Ole Anderson. Should be a great program…

We start with a video clip of Nikita Koloff decimating some poor jobber, including a Russian Sickle that sends him head over heels in the air. To the standard open we go…

Tony Schiavone and David Crockett are our hosts. Dusty Rhodes joins them at the podium. Dusty hypes the big matches coming up on the show. Dusty says some gibberish about a new hairdo he’s going to unveil in 1986 that will be a “Grace Jones lookalike“. That would be an interesting frightening look.

To the ring, it’s Sam Houston vs. Tony Zane, so a scrawny JTTS vs. a chubby jobber. Houston offers a handshake. Zane slaps it away. A cartwheel into a dropkick and armdrag elicits cheers from the crowd. Houston controls most of the way. He ducks a clothesline and puts Zane with the running bulldog. *

Tully Blanchard is at the podium, sans his “Perfect 10” Baby Doll. Tully says the U.S. Title is still his top priority. Tully plugs the upcoming World TV Title Tournament and mentions he faces 7-time NWA Champ Harley Race in the first round. Interesting matchup. Too bad it never happened. Race faces Magnum T.A. that night instead. No mention of Baby Doll’s whereabouts.

After a break, it’s Jim Cornette at the podium for the first time in a few weeks. Cornette says he’s been calling the Rock & Roll Express a dog, a coward and every other name in the book for months, but they continue to duck the challenge of the Midnight Express. He introduces his team by saying anybody who messes with these men ends up on more floors than Johnson’s Wax…

The Midnight Express vs. Mark Cooper & Josh Stroud. Double-team moves and quick tags give the Midnight the early advantage. Beautiful Bobby offers a handshake to Stroud, who foolishly accepts and gets kicked in the gut for it. David & Tony discuss Baby Doll’s absence during Tully’s interview. Meanwhile, Loverboy Dennis holds Cooper outside while Beautiful Bobby comes off the top rope with what appears to be an elbow. The camera crew misses it. Because JCP. Back in the ring, Bobby hits a flying kneedrop off the top rope, then whips Cooper into a clothesline from Dennis. Watching the Midnight Express in action is a thing of beauty. Total squash, but add in Cornette’s hilarious commentary and it’s worthy of **.

After a break, it’s Arn Anderson vs. George South. Arn calls out Dusty Rhodes. He punishes South’s arm and puts him away with the gourdbuster. Standard Anderson annihilation. *1/2

NWA World Champion Ric Flair joins Tony at the podium. The women in the audience are hooting and hollering at Flair. He explains to Schiavone, “Now you know why I come into this television station a little weary once in a while.” They keeping cutting away to women in the studio who are ogling at Flair. The champ turns the conversation to his upcoming match with Ronnie Garvin, and chuckles. Flair tells Garvin to ask Dusty Rhodes, Magnum T.A., Manny Fernandez, Harley Race, the Von Erichs, Barry Windham, he is the greatest. Flair tells the director to stop showing the girls in the audience and keep the camera on him…

Flair does his best Nostradamus: “I am so high on being Ric Flair each day of my life that I might stick around for another 20 years,” he says. Bold prediction. Seems unlikely…

To the ring, it’s Rocky King vs. Mac Jeffers. Umm, why? Jeffers catches King coming off the ropes with a very nice forearm shot, but King is able to win it with a powerslam. This one is an opening match at a standard house show and has no business on national TV. 1/2*

U.S. Champ Magnum T.A. joins Tony at the podium. Magnum touches on his matchup tonight with Ole, but mainly focuses on Ric Flair and his best buddy Dusty Rhodes. Soft spoken interview, but Magnum has the chops to make it effective.

To the ring, it’s Black Bart vs. Jim Jeffers. No mention of Bart’s manager J.J. Dillon, who is not at ringside with him. Jeffers almost pulls of the upset with a crossbody block. Jeffers almost wins again and he reverses a body slam attempt into a roll up, and gets a long two-count. Jeffers misses a dropkick and Bart lands a leg drop for the pin. Strange to see Jeffers dominate most of the match. *

Jim Cornette is back out. Yes! Cornette tells Schiavone his mother really likes him and gives Tony a late Christmas present: a tie with tennis rackets on it. Cornette says until the Rock & Roll Express gets the intestinal fortitude to put NWA Tag Titles up against the Midnight Express, he’s going to continue to be out here every week calling them yellow, stinking cowards. Cornette snatches the tie back from Schiavone and walks off.

Now time for the final Superstation Championship Challenge Series (SCCS) match, for the U.S. Title, Champion Magnum T.A. vs. Ole Anderson. Even matchup early on as both men grapple for the advantage. Out of the corner, Magnum blocks an Anderson punch and lands three of his own. Ole rakes the eyes and takes Magnum down. He follows with a bodyslam and elbow, and chokes Magnum on the bottom rope…

Ole goes to hold #973: ARMBAR!. The fans chant for Magnum as Ole continues to work the arm, and keeps the advantage by pulling the hair. Cheater! Magnum answers with punches and floors Ole. They slug it out from their knees. Now it’s Magnum’s turn to work the arm. Ole goes back to the eyes and regains the advantage…

More fisticuffs and Magnum is back on top. A bodyslam and armbar, and Ole feels the pain now. Anderson comes back with a headbutt. Magnum responds with right hands. This is a hard hitting brawl that just goes back and forth. Ole pulls the tights and yanks Magnum into the ring post. The U.S. champ falls out of the ring, to the floor. We go to a break…

Back live, Magnum is still in trouble as Ole pounds away. More bad news for Magnum, as Arn Anderson comes to ringside. Dusty Rhodes also comes out, as the crowd erupts. It continues to go back and forth. Magnum reverses a piledriver into a back drop, lands a drop kick and goes for the pin, but Ole gets his foot in the ropes. Small package, but Ole is in the ropes again. Ole thumbs Magnum’s eye to regain the advantage…

The back-and-forth war continues. Ole goes for the pin and puts his legs in the ropes for leverage, but the ref catches him cheating. Magnum hits the double axehandle off the second rope, goes for the pin, and the bell rings!?!! Jim Crockett comes out and says all SCCS matches must end by pinfall or submission, so the match continues, as we go to another break…

Back live, Anderson pounds away on Magnum, but misses an elbow. Magnum slugs away. Coming off the ropes, Magnum gets tripped by Arn Anderson. Dusty comes over and pounds away on Arn. Ole goes over to help Arn, but Magnum rolls up Ole from behind and pins him! Magnum T.A. is the winner. That was a good, competitive, old school wrestling match. Not every fan today would enjoy it, but I did. ***1/4

At the podium,  Jim Crockett says because of overwhelming audience response to the SCCS, they’re going to have a special prime time program, the Superstars on the Superstation on Friday, February 7. Fans can vote on which four matches they want to see.

After a break, it’s time for the NWA World Title match, Ric Flair vs. Ron Garvin. Garvin hiptosses Flair and uses two flying headscissors to take gain the early advantage. Flair reverses and chops Garvin. The challenger responds with an open handed chop. Garvin locks in a variation of the armbar and does a version of the Oklahoma Roll with it. Very unique offense. Flair is in pain. Chops are back on the menu as they go back and forth, lighting up each other’s chest. Garvin floors Flair and the champ rolls out of the ring. “I’m gonna kick your butt, buddy,” Flair yells…

Back in the ring, more chops exchanged, with Garvin also headbutting the champ. A rollup by Garvin gets a two count. More chops, followed by a backdrop and elbow by Garvin. He gets a two-count. Another exchange of chops, and Flair backs away. He suckers Garvin in and tosses the challenger outside. On the floor, Flair rams Garvin’s arm into the ring post. They pound each other some more and we go to a commercial break…

Back live, Flair, on top of Garvin, punches away at his forehead. More chops and punches exchanged. The Flair Flop. Garvin picks him up, whips him across and we get the Flair Flip over the ropes and down on the floor. Now they exchange chops on the floor. Back in the ring, Garvin almost gets the pin on a crossbody block. More chops. Flair hits a back suplex, followed by a knee drop. Garvin blocks a vertical suplex and lands his own. Flair cries out in pain. Garvin locks in the sleeper, but Flair counters with an atomic drop variation on Garvin’s knee. They exchange more blows. Flair’s getting frustrated. Garvin chokes Flair and slaps him, followed by a Greco-Roman bite to the face. Garvin looks enraged. Nice sequence into a bridge by Garvin into a backslide and he almost has Flair pinned. Garvin hits the knockout punch, but Flair gets his foot on the ropes…

Flair lifts Garvin and crotches him on the top rope. The champ throws the referee across the ring. Dusty Rhodes comes in and attacks Flair. He puts him in the figure-four. Arn and Ole Anderson run in and stomp Dusty. We’ve got mayhem! Magnum T.A., Sam Houston and Rocky King try to help Dusty, but get taken out. Flair drops a knee on Dusty leg while the Anderson’s hold him. Just like how they broke his leg back in September. They stomp away on the leg. Finally, Magnum and the others chase the Horsemen off. Dusty Rhodes is hurt. Very good match, chaotic ending. ***3/4

Ole goes to the podium and complains about Dusty constantly interfering in their matches. Ole promises the World Title will stay with Ric Flair until the day he decides to retire. Flair yells, “We’re the best there is, whether you like it or not! You get up in the morning and learn to live with it, because we are the best there is.”

Back to the ring, it’s the Italian Stallion vs. Pablo Crenshaw. Jeez. They make up for having two big matches by loading it up with jobberpalooza. Stallion press slams Crenshaw. David Crockett tells us Stallion has a future. He lands a big powerslam and wins. *

J.J. Dillon joins Tony at the podium. Schiavone refers to him as the “manager of champions” and says 1985 was a very good year for him. J.J. says he took “a diamond in the rough. I took him about as far as he could go, but I realize in 1986, I’ve got to do something better.” Dillon says he’s negotiating with “a proven commodity” that he thinks he can take to an even higher level…

Dillon mentions Tully Blanchard, and says they should not have been speculating on Baby Doll’s whereabouts. Dillon says Blanchard gave Baby Doll “a very deserved rest for the end of the year”, and in fact he, as a personal friend, handled the travel arrangements to Acapulco. He again promises 1986 will be a great year for him and a few other people, and he has some surprises. Hmmm.

After a break, Dusty Rhodes, Magnum T.A. and Ron Garvin are at the podium and they’re pissed. Rhodes says this studio and this world ain’t big enough for the Andersons and Flair. Dusty yells at the camera crew to move back. He moves the podium out of the way and challenges Flair and the Andersons to come back out. Magnum issues the same challenge, as does Garvin. They’re all fired up. Dusty says they’re not going to wait, they’re going to go get them…

To the ring, Tully Blanchard vs. Kent Glover. Blanchard puts Glover in a spinning toe hold and slaps him for good measure. David Crockett says there’s trouble backstage and he’s got to go check it out. Blanchard punishes Glover for a bit and puts him away with the slingshot suplex. *

Tony wraps up the show and that’s it.

Quite the eventful program to end 1985. Two really good matches featuring top stars, with each of the top two belts in the NWA on the line. That was almost unheard of at the time for free TV. Additionally, a great, heated angle to end the World Title match and inflame the feud between the Horsemen and the faces.

Also, judging from J.J. Dillon’s comments, his time managing Buddy Landel appears to be over, despite helping him win the National Title at Starrcade one month ago. They didn’t mention Landel by name at all and Dillon indicated he “took him about as far as he could go”. It also appears Dillon is negotiating with Tully Blanchard. What does Baby Doll think of that? Great show and JCP is a hot product right now heading into 1986.