The SmarK Rant for WWE Network Hidden Gems – After the Last Battle of Atlanta! (11.06.83)
So they’ve found ANOTHER Omni show from Georgia Championship Wrestling, this one after the famous Rich-Sawyer Last Battle of Atlanta show and just before Starrcade ’83.
Taped from Atlanta, GA (11.06.83)
Brad Armstrong v. Chief Joe Lightfoot
Brad works a headlock to start and just cranks on that for a good long while, and a bodypress gets two. Back to the headlock and Lightfoot finally escapes 4:50 into the match, but goes to a headscissors on the mat. And then they lay there on the mat in THAT hold for another few minutes. Brad escapes and Chief Joe comes back with chops and a kneedrop, and they slug it out and Joe goes back to the headscissors on the mat again after about a minute of hot action. Brad blocks a monkey flip and gets two, but tries a bodypress and misses, allowing Lightfoot to take him into the corner with an atomic drop. Brad gets a backbreaker for two, but Joe gets a jackknife cradle for two and then Brad rolls him up for two. The Chief protests a pulling of the tights, and then kicks Brad low while the ref investigates, and follows with a flying double chop for two. Lightfoot to the top, but his feet are not as light as advertised, and he misses a flying splash to allow Brad a sunset flip for two. Small package finishes at 12:38. Dull start but it turned into some really good action by the end. **3/4
National TV title: Ronnie Garvin v. Jake Roberts
As usual, only the first 10:00 are for the title. They really need to steal that gimmick for one of the secondary titles these days, since it would actually make the “Champion loses in a non-title match” trope mean something. They fight for the lockup and Garvin works the arm, but grabs the ropes and gets his hand kicked away by the ref. Remember kids, you’ve gotta be IN the ropes, not using them to pull yourself away from the hold. Jake opts to punch his way out of the wristlock and tosses Garvin, but he pops right back in with Hands of Stone for two. And Jake slithers out of the ring to get some advice from Paul Ellering. That advice? “Don’t burn your bridges, and stick with Tylenol for pain.” Too bad he didn’t heed either one. Although I am reminded of the time I had a kidney stone a few years back and my wife took me to the ER, and they gave me ONE Tylenol and ONE ibuprofen. It’s like, it feels like I have a friggin’ golf ball wedged in my urethra and THIS is what I get? Back in the ring, Jake hides in the ropes, so Garvin beats the stuffing out of him anyway and drops an elbow for two. Jake wisely exits again, but Garvin keeps up the assault and Jake keeps retreating to the ropes. As pointed out by Jason on The Good Place this week, you’re never going to win with a prevent defense! You need to throw a Hail Mary, dog! Jake manages to get an armbar and works on that while grabbing the ropes for leverage, but time is running out on the title match portion. Jake with a suplex for two, but Garvin gets all fired up and beats him down for two. Garvin slugs away in the corner, but Jake finds an international object, and then hits the DDT for the pin and the title at 9:28! The ref checks him for weapons, just in case, but Ellering has already been passed the brass knuckles and the deed is done. This was great, because they were clearly building to the time limit expiring like usual and then suddenly had Jake squeak under the 10:00 and pull it out. ***1/2
Jimmy Valiant v. The Great Kabuki
Jimmy goes for the gusto, cutting a promo on “the goofy looking Chinese” in the ring and then gives Gary Hart 5 seconds to get the hell out of the ring. OR ELSE. Trouble I’d assume. And indeed, the crowd counts to five and then Boogie lays him out as promised and then attacks Kabuki as the crowd goes nuts. Jimmy splits his legs and then yanks him into the post to crotch him, and the ref gets suspicious of where Kabuki’s groin injury came from so Jimmy throws the ref into the corner to stop his meddling. Valiant chokes Kabuki out while arguing with the ref, but Kabuki goes to the eyes and then stops to dance too much, allowing Jimmy to get the sleeper. Kabuki rakes the eyes again to break, but Jimmy goes right back to the sleeper. Kabuki escapes that and uses the dreaded GOOFY LOOKING CHINESE CLAW, but Valiant fights out of that and naturally Kabuki goes right back to it. Valiant fights out and Kabuki boots him in the gut and goes to the top, coming off with…you guessed it….another claw. How does jumping off the top rope first make it more devastating? Whatever, I guess it’s science. Finally Valiant escapes one more time, but the ref is bumped now, so Jimmy pulls a chain out of his tights and chokes out Gary Hart. I feel like he should have played the chain card BEFORE the ref was knocked unconscious. So he knocks out Gary Hart and pins HIM, and the ref is still goofy and counts the pin at 9:30. And people thought the ref in Pac-Trent match was terrible. ½*
Abdullah the Butcher v. Buzz Sawyer
So I’m presuming that Buzz turned babyface pretty quickly after losing to Rich? Buzz lays out Paul Ellering before the ring intros and they fight on the floor, with Abby running Buzz into the post to draw blood already. Back in the ring, Abby pulls out the sharp stick, but Buzz steals it and carves him up on the ropes and finally the ref just calls for the DQ at 4:20. However, the brawl continues unabated, no matter how much the ref tries to abate it, and they roll around in the ring choking each other and fighting on the floor. Butcher actually pushes Buzz into the front row of angry grannies and then they fight all the way to the back while getting swarmed by the crowd, until they are finally pulled apart and they have to bring up the house lights to calm things down and move onto the intermission. So that was quite the deal, which was nothing as a match but was nuts as an angle, 10 years before ECW made a regular thing out of it.
National tag team titles: The Road Warriors v. Brett Wayne Sawyer & Dusty Rhodes
Brett works the headlock on Hawk to start and it’s over to Dusty for some elbows. Animal comes in with a test of strength, but Brett sneaks in under Dusty’s legs and gets a cheapshot on Animal. He’s unable to get a slam, however, and it’s back to Dusty. So we get a funny bit where Hawk can’t slam Dusty, and Dusty gets a look in his face like “Oh HO!” and then slams Hawk instead. The babyfaces double-team Hawk in the corner, so it’s back to Animal again and he doesn’t get anywhere either. Finally Animal gets a backbreaker on Sawyer to get some heat and Hawk adds a press slam and legdrop for two. To the bearhug, and the Warriors switch off on that for a while. Finally it’s hot tag Stardust, but he gets tripped up by Hawk from the outside and they go to work on him now. Sawyer comes in and cleans house with a powerslam on Hawk, but Animal breaks it up and it’s a DQ at 15:00 because apparently they had not mastered the art of booking the Road Warriors in SHORT matches in 1983. ½* The Road Warriors, poor sports that they were, attack Brett Wayne afterwards and murdalize him, and an ENRAGED Buzz Sawyer storms out and chases them off single-handedly, even managing to overshadow Dusty. Hmm, I’m guessing he was booking the territory at this point…
Tommy Rich v. Ted Dibiase
So the idea was that Tommy would win the Last Battle of Atlanta and become a big Ric Flair level star who could carry the territory, but it just didn’t happen and in fact the feud with Sawyer was so long and drawn out that it really killed the drawing power of both guys. Meanwhile, it’s ironic that the main event is Dibiase fighting Tommy…RICH. Insert Dr. Evil meme here. Is that Pez Whatley as the special referee? Where did THAT come from, I wonder? They slug it out and Dibiase elbows him down, but fires back and takes him down with a headlock. At this point the crowd is so quiet that you can hear people having conversations in the background while Rich lays there in the headlock, and in fact you can hear one of the wrestlers loudly say “We’ve got 20 minutes, what do you wanna do?”. Dibiase fights out and tries a piledriver, but Rich backdrops out of that and grabs the headlock again. So I guess the answer to “What do you wanna do” is apparently “GRAB A FUCKING HEADLOCK AND HOLD ON FOR TEN MINUTES”. I mean, certainly I’ve heard WORSE gameplans. Dibiase fights out and pounds Rich with shoulders in the corner, and Tommy whips him into the corner but misses a charge like a galloping lummox and Dibiase chokes him down to take over. Dibiase hits a suplex for two, but Rich is in the ropes, so Dibiase chokes him out again. Dibiase goes up and hits an elbow from the middle for two and goes to a chinlock. Rich fights out of that, but Dibiase chokes him down again. Tommy makes a comeback and goes up with a fistdrop, but that misses and Dibiase gets two. Rich makes a comeback and slugs away, then gets the sleeper, but Dibiase quickly takes him into the corner to break. Ted boots him down again and Rich is miraculously bleeding from whatever contact was made, and Dibiase goes to work on the cut. Dibiase goes up with an elbow and chokes him out again in the corner while working on the cut, but Pez pulls Dibiase off and Tommy uses the distraction to attack, but then we get a really weird deal with various low level guys running into the ring and holding Rich back because he’s bleeding too much or something? Finally the match is thrown out at 17:00 but Rich is announced as the winner because reasons, and the jobbers pull them apart to end it. That was a horrible finish and didn’t particularly make any sense. How did Tommy even win? They already had one bloody pull-apart brawl earlier in the show and this wasn’t gonna top it. *
Couple of good matches here and it’s only 90 minutes long, but all this stuff is really on the downswing of GCW’s run and it shows.