NWA World Championship Wrestling, October 25, 1986

Tragedy strikes as Magnum T.A. suffers career-ending injuries in a car wreck, forever changing the future of the NWA. Plus, one of the most legendary Four Horsemen beatdowns ever, one of the most shocking turns in JCP history, and the Road Warriors issue a dangerous challenge to Jim Cornette and the Midnight Express…

We begin with video of J.J. Dillon’s voice, inside a car, trailing another vehicle into the parking lot of Jim Crockett Promotions headquarters. Dusty Rhodes exits his vehicle and the Andersons immediately attack him, as the action freezes and we go to the show open…

David Crockett and Tony Schiavone are our hosts from the TBS studios. Crockett says he’s “very happy to say that Magnum T.A. is doing very well”. We’ll get a full report later. Tony, never one to exaggerate, also promises “some of the biggest news in the history of professional wrestling”.

Brad Armstrong comes out to let us know he’s excited about Starrcade and plans to make some waves in JCP.

To the ring, Brad Armstrong & Tim Horner vs. Bill Tabb & Brodie Chase. Horner & Armstrong control Tabb early on with headlocks, drop toeholds and frequent tags. Horner does a sunset flip off the tag for a two count. Chase tags in and gets a double elbow as a welcome. Horner delivers an atomic drop, setting up Armstrong for the Russian leg sweep and the pin. *

Jimmy Valiant comes out acting like an idiot to hype the hair vs. hair match at Starrcade ’86. He promises that Paul Jones will be a bald-headed geek. Valiant says he loves Big Mama more than life and talks how she’s putting her hair up against Jones’ hair. Horrible, ridiculous promo, as usual.

“Gorgeous” Jimmy Garvin w/ Precious vs. John Savage. Quick squash with the brainbuster. DUD

Jim Crockett Jr. joins Tony for an update on Magnum T.A.’s condition. Crockett asks fans not to call the hospital, but provides an address to send cards and letters. Crockett says if anyone can recover from this type of injury, Magnum can, but “it’s going to be a long haul for him and our prayers are with him”.

After a break, the Starrcade ’86 update: We see a brief clip of the Midnight Express injuring the Road Warriors, and then a workout video with the LOD as they prepare for their comeback. Interesting that it shows them, for the first time, without their face paint. Otherwise, it’s just roided guys in the gym lifting heavy weights, then a promo, in full regalia. Animal promises a big surprise for Jim Cornette and the Midnight Express. Hawk says the surprise is “good for us, and bad for you”…

Schiavone introduces another video of the Road Warriors and Paul Ellering outside a construction site, spotlighting scaffolds. Animal says they’re calling this match “The Night of the Skywalkers“. The Warriors climb the scaffold and we go to a slo-mo video of them tossing pumpkins off the scaffold and smashing to pieces on the concrete. Animal says this is what their heads are gonna do when they hit the ground. (A scaffold match was unheard of by most wrestling fans at the time, and the thought of it exciting a lot of people at the time. In hindsight, the matches are usually terrible, but this was something new and exciting in 1986.)

In more Starrcade ‘ 86 news, Jim Crockett Jr. tells us Manny Fernandez will be in a cage above the ring for the Paul Jones vs. Jimmy Valiant match, and Dusty Rhodes will face Tully Blanchard in a First Blood Match.

We go back to the video we saw a clip of at the start, of the Four Horsemen, in two cars, trailing Dusty Rhodes. Dusty gets out of his car and is immediately attacked by the Horsemen. Ole Anderson has a baseball bat. The cameraman says he’s not going to shoot this, but Tully & J.J. order him to keep the camera running. Arn & Ole Anderson tie Rhodes to a truck, while J.J. chokes him with the baseball bat. The camera zooms in on Dusty’s hand…

Make it good,” Dusty yells as Tully swings the bat at his hand. The camera freezes, but we hear the bat hitting him twice. They then black out Dusty’s hand so we don’t see the damage. Apparently it was too violent to allow on TV. Ole slaps Dusty and told him that he’d be taken out in 1986. “We’ll see you tomorrow night in Charlotte, you cripple,” J.J. Dillon says.  

The attack was done because the match in Charlotte the next night, which Dillon alluded to, included a stipulation that if Dusty Rhodes or his partner took the fall, Rhodes could not be a part of Starrcade ’86. Originally, Magnum T.A. was going to be Dusty’s partner. Obviously, the tragic car accident changes that. So we go to video of Charlotte, as Dusty brings his partner to the ring for the cage match…

Ole Anderson & J.J. Dillon vs. Dusty Rhodes and….Nikita Koloff??!!! Ole & J.J. are already in the ring. Dusty comes out, with Nikita Koloff behind him. The jaws dropping from the fans in Charlotte are visible. Dusty climbs in the ring. Ole and J.J. are stunned by Nikita’s presence. Koloff remains outside the cage. Dusty goes after both men as Koloff slowly steps into the cage. Ole and J.J. are double-teaming Dusty. Koloff attacks Ole Anderson and crowd goes apeshit! Koloff slugs Ole, stomps him repeatedly and forces him out of the cage. Koloff lifts J.J. Dillon up as Dusty comes off the top rope, clubbing Dillon in the head with his cast. Nikita kicks Ole away as he tries to get back in the ring. Dusty pounds away on J.J. and pins him…

Ric Flair comes to ringside as the Andersons help a bloody J.J. Dillon out of the cage. The crowd picks up the chant of “Nikita, Nikita”. Flair says he doesn’t believe it. Nikita motions that he wants Flair’s NWA World Title belt. “You are gonna pay the price of a lifetime, asshole!“, Flair yells. Not much of a match, but damn, **** for the angle. (Watching this at home when it originally aired, I was absolutely floored. It was like a “Game of Thrones”-level shocker.)

After a break, Dusty Rhodes and Nikita are sitting down on the interview set. Dusty says his closest friend in life, Magnum T.A., is suffering and the last two weeks have been very difficult. Dusty says after it happened, Nikita called him and they talked on the phone for hours. Dusty says he and Nikita don’t believe in all the same things, but living in this country gives you the right to have freedom of speech, freedom of choice, be what you want to be. Dusty says whether you like his choice or not in this merging of the “Superpowers”, he asks you to respect it…  

Nikita says he’s a proud Russian and a superior athlete, but what happened to Magnum, he called Dusty because throughout their battles, he learned to respect Magnum T.A. “Kremlin, Uncle Ivan, nobody tells Nikita what to do. And now, you have to remember, I, Nikita Koloff, am greatest Russian athlete to ever walk this earth.”

Back to the ring, it’s the Andersons vs. Randy Barber and Clement Fields. Quick squash as the angry Andersons brutalize Fields’ arm and make him submit. *  

Jim Cornette and Big Bubba join Tony. Cornette says a scaffold match is the most dangerous match there could ever be. He says the Road Warriors have gone crazy and only an insane, irrational person would dream up something like this. Cornette says his team isn’t scared, but he’s scared for them. And you’ll never get him up on that scaffold…  

Manny Fernandez & Rick Rude w/ Paul Jones vs. Kent Glover & Alan Martin. The Bull rams Martin into Rude’s elbow. Rude tags in and laces a chop in Martin. Glover receives similar treatment. Rude tags Fernandez in, Irish whips Martin, leap frogs him and Fernandez nails Martin with a nice clothesline. Good sequence. Rude tags back in to deliver the Rude Awakening, a DDT, for the pin. *  

Jones says he learned that it takes big money to get real stars. He warns Baron Von Raschke, who left the Army last week, to stay out of his face. Jones vows Big Mama will be a bald-headed geek, and will be the ugliest thing you’ve ever seen in your life. Fernandez challenges Wahoo to come out. Rude says Wahoo lasted nine years in the NFL, but didn’t last nine seconds with Rude and the Bull.  

That’s it for this week’s program. Obviously, Magnum’s car wreck changed everything. The plan was for Magnum to face Nikita, likely in an I Quit match, at Starrcade. They needed to do something big for their biggest show of the year, and turning Nikita to have him face Flair was probably the right way to go in the short term.