NWA World Championship Wrestling, October 18, 1986

The debate about Magnum T.A.’s scheduled opponent at Starrcade ’86 is finally put to rest.

Plus, Dusty Rhodes gets revenge on Tully Blanchard in a major way, Rick Rude gets welcomed to JCP the hard way, and the Army loses a soldier.

The hype for the NWA’s biggest card of the year begins in earnest on an eventful edition of the Saturday night staple…

A clip of Dusty Rhodes in the ring, surrounded by the Four Horsemen on the outside. Dusty motions for “just one” to join him. Tully Blanchard does. He and Rhodes lock up. Rhodes lands an elbow and the Andersons immediately converge on the squared circle and put the boots to Big Dust. Cue the show open…

To the TBS studios we. Tony Schiavone & David Crockett are our hosts. They let us know the first match for Starrcade ’86 has been signed, and we’ll find out what it is later…

Magnum T.A. comes to the podium. Magnum says he has unfinished business with Jimmy Garvin, but his main concern is Nikita Koloff and the U.S. Title. That is his top priority, whether it’s for the belt, or for USA vs. USSR.  Magnum reinforces that message to Jim Crockett and everyone watching. “Starrcade would be just the place to settle that issue,” Magnum says to close the promo. (This should settle the discussion about who Magnum was going to face at Starrcade ’86 before his tragic accident changed everything. For years, some have stated he was going to beat Ric Flair for the NWA Title. It looked like he might tangle with Jimmy Garvin, as that was his main feud at the time. But this promo makes it clear, Magnum was targeting Nikita Koloff and he wouldn’t have said that if they weren’t planning for it. Additionally, it was announced on the syndicated shows that Dusty or Ronnie Garvin would get the title shot vs. Flair.)

To the ring, for Ole & Arn Anderson vs. Keith Patterson & Vernon Deaton. Ole manhandles Patterson, ties his arm up in the ropes and goes to work. Arn tags in and delivers more punishment to the left arm. Arn goes for a gourdbuster, almost loses control of it at the top, then drives Patterson down in more of a front suplex than gourdbuster. That ends it quickly. DUD

J.J. Dillon & Tully Blanchard join Tony. Tully is on crutches and has a heavily bandaged leg. We find out why…

Video from the Greensboro Coliseum on October 11. Dusty Rhodes and Tully in the ring. Tully grabs a steel chair and tries to hit Dusty with it, but gets slugged in the stomach and drops the chair. J.J. Dillon, who is also in the ring, gets whacked on the head with the chair. Then Dusty puts the steel chair to work on Tully’s leg. The tables are turned from when Tully did this to Dusty and cost him the NWA Title two months ago…

Rhodes repeatedly pounds Blanchard’s leg with the steel chair, bending the chair in the process. Dusty locks in the figure-four and grabs the ropes for extra leverage. Referee Tommy Young tries to break it, but gets tossed out of the ring by Dusty. Ditto for referee Earl Hebner, who actually lands on top of Young on the floor. J.J. Dillon also gets tossed aside while Dusty maintains the submission hold. The Midnight Express come out to help Tully but also get tossed aside. The crowd goes apeshit as Magnum T.A. comes in to aid Dusty…

Magnum helps Dusty keep everyone away as they try to permanently injure Tully Blanchard. Finally the hold is broken by Dusty, but Magnum grabs Blanchard’s leg and Rhodes goes to the top rope for a flying kneedrop onto Tully. Dillon dives on his man to try to protect him. Rhodes tosses the referees and Bobby Eaton outside again. Magnum yanks Dillon away and stomps on him. Rhodes goes back to the top and drops another knee on Blanchard’s leg. (Really great stuff here. This is how you follow through on a storyline with a natural progression and take it to another level.)

Back live, we get a shot of Blanchard’s injured leg. But Dillon says “the seesaw has teetered back a little bit now“. Dillon hypes a big tag team match in a cage tomorrow night in Charlotte against Magnum & Dusty. If Dusty & Magnum lose, Rhodes won’t be able to appear at Starrcade. Dillon says no one else is available and he is forced to take Blanchard’s place in match. (And what an interesting cage match that turns out to be…)

After a break, Ron Garvin vs. the Grimm Reaper. This is our first look at the Reaper. He has an entirely black outfit, except the part of the mask coverage his face, and his gloves, are white. Garvin works the leg to start and tries a small package. Garvin backdrops the Reaper and ends it quickly with the knockout punch. 1/2*

Back to the ring quickly, with Wahoo McDaniel vs. Gary Royal. Wahoo takes Royal down with a headlock. Royal tries a wristlock and gets headbutted for his efforts. Wahoo ends it very quickly with the big chop. 1/2*

“Ragin’ Bull” Manny Fernandez, “Ravishing” Rick Rude, Shaska Whatley & Paul Jones join Tony. Jones says he will sign for a match with Jimmy Valiant at Starrcade. Rude says Starrcade ’86 will be the greatest event in the history of wrestling and shows off his impressive physique, telling the ladies to “take a look”. Manny starts to talk but Wahoo McDaniel comes over and interrupts. Wahoo gets in Manny’s face and tries to tell him Jones’ ain’t no good. Wahoo warns Rude not to try to sneak up on him…

Fernandez puts his finger in Wahoo’s face, but it gets brushed aside and Wahoo takes out Rick Rude with an enormous chop to the throat. Wahoo grabs Jones, but Fernandez jumps him from behind, as does Rude. They take it to the ring and double team the Big Chief. They put the boots to him. Rude lifts Wahoo up and Fernandez comes off the ropes with a back elbow. Rude goes for the DDT, but Ron Garvin, Magnum T.A. and Brad Armstrong come in to save the day.

After a break, NWA World Champion Ric Flair joins Tony. Flair rattles off his long list of accolades and nicknames: “Slick Ric”, Space Mountain, World Champion, etc.). Flair hypes upcoming bouts with Dusty in Pittsburgh and Magnum T.A. in Omaha. “Starrcade ’86, I don’t care who it is. If it’s Garvin, Dusty Rhodes, Magnum T.A., Jimmy Garvin, Nikita Koloff, I don’t care who it is. You know, WHOO, when the smoke clears, and Number One walks that aisle, whooooo, you know whoever it is better be the best wrestler he’s ever been in his entire life because he’s got to wrestle Ric Flair. Ladies and gentlemen, like it or not, whoooo, I just happen to be all there is right now. WHOO!” Another awesome promo from Flair.

To the ring, Ivan Koloff vs. Mike Simani. Koloff takes down Simani quickly and drops elbows and knees on him. Koloff applies the cobra clutch, and pins him with it. That’s a new finisher for Ivan and another really quick squash. 1/2*

JCP President Jim Crockett joins Tony to discuss Starrcade ’86. He informs us the card will held in two cities, Greensboro and Atlanta. One match already signed, plus NWA Champ Ric Flair will defend his title as well, against a yet-to-be-named opponent…

We go to video of Jimmy Valiant sitting in some back alley with empty beer cans strewn around. With Valiant moaning about his life, we see footage from 1984 of the Assassins and Paul Jones cutting Valiant’s beard. Then a shot of a bald Valiant, then to Manny Fernandez turning on Valiant and whacking him with the briefcase. They try to make it sort of a blues song/video. Valiant pulls a harmonica out of his boot. A station wagon pulls up, and Big Mama pops out. Oh no. She offers to put her hair up at Starrcade against Paul Jones’. That station wagon is painted on the front and sides with what basically looks like Bam Bam Bigelow’s flame tattoo. Afterwards, Jones accepts the challenge. So it’s Hair vs. Hair, Jones vs. Valiant, with Big Mama’s hair on the line, at Starrcade ’86. (If you want to go through the torture, here’s the original version of this montage from one of the syndicated shows.)

Shaska Whatley, Baron Von Raschke and “Ravishing” Rick Rude w/ Paul Jones vs. Brad Armstrong & the Kansas Jayhawks. Well, we finally have a competitive match. Shaska takes Mantel over with a hip toss, but misses the followup and Mantel takes control. Quick tags with Jaggers and Armstrong exchanging time in the ring. Jaggers delivers a big back drop and bodyslam. Running the ropes, Rude grabs Jaggers’ hair from the outside and yanks him down. The Baron tags in and slugs Jaggers. A hip toss, followed by boots and a ram into the buckle. Shaska returns to work over Jaggers. Baron tags back in and maintains control. They keep tagging in and out. Rude has yet to enter…

Jaggers and Shaska collide. Brad Armstrong gets the hot tag. He slugs the Baron. Irish whip and Armstrong leap frogs the Baron and hits a crossbody block. Shaska comes in to break up the pin, but accidentally stomps the Baron in the gut! Von Raschke is mad. He kicks Armstrong in the face and signals for the Iron Claw. But Armstrong evades and dropkicks the Baron. He covers, and Rick Rude comes in for the save, but Armstrong moves and Rude, like Shaska, stomps the Baron in the midsection. The Baron is like “what the hell?” Armstrong knocks the Baron into Jones and rolls him up for the pin. Jayhawks & Armstrong win. Fun little match. **1/2

Afterwards, Jones pushes the Baron, who signals for the claw on his manager! Jones backs away and the Army tries to calm the Baron down. The fans are begging him to do it, but Rude and Shaska convince him otherwise. The Baron relents and turns his back. Then Jones nails the Baron from behind! Von Raschke responds by locking the Iron Claw on Jones! Rude, Shaska and Manny Fernandez come in and attack the Baron. Rude and Shaska hold him for Fernandez’ Flying Burrito. Wahoo McDaniel comes in for the save. He chops Rude and Shaska. But the odds are too many and they triple-team Wahoo. The Jayhawks and Brad Armstrong come back out to end the beatdown, as the Baron also gets back to his feet. We get a staredown in the ring, that ends with Wahoo McDaniel giving a quick salute to the Baron. Von Raschke gives the Iron Claw signal to a big pop from the studio audience. A face turn! (That fails miserably because I don’t think they ever showed this footage elsewhere and the JCP fans were used to Baron as a heel for a long, long time. He got booed at Starrcade.)

NWA Tag Team Champions the Rock & Roll Express join Tony. Gibson says he’s feeling a lot better and he’s back from his injuries. Morton says it looks like the Army is falling apart, just like the Four Horsemen are going to start doing. Morton tells the Andersons they’re ready for ’em.

After a break, the Midnight Express w/ Jim Cornette vs. Allen West & Eddie Roberts. Already underway in the ring, Dennis suplexes West, then holds him for Bobby for a top rope move and it’s over quickly. Not even really a match. But it sets up this: Big Bubba enters and delivers a top rope splash to West. 1/2*

And that wraps up this week’s show. Wow. Interesting program, to say the least. They crammed a lot of stuff into only 33 minutes of actual air time. The groundwork has begun for Starrcade ’86, but after this show was taped, a tragedy occurs that changes everything. We’ll hear about that and see the fallout next week. Thanks for reading.