Rock Star Gary reflects on…Starrcade ’83

Back in 1983 Jim Crockett Promotions created Starrcade as its annual Thanksgiving night show in an effort to compete with the nationally-expanding WWF. Since Crockett wanted to make a huge splash in order to make the NWA champion a big hit he along with Dusty Rhodes put together this supercard.

Live from Greensboro, NC

Airdate: November 24, 1983

Attendance: 15,447

Hosted by Gordon Solie and Bob Caudle

Match 1: Mid-Atlantic champion Rufus R. “Freight Train” Jones and Bugsy McGraw versus the Assassins (w/ Paul Jones)

Highlights:

  • For those that are unaware Assassin #1 (Jody Hamilton) is the father of referee Nick Patrick.
  • After a slam McGraw unsuccessfully attempted to remove the mask from Assassin #1.
  • Jones tagged in, electrified the crowd, and then delivered a head butt to the shoulder of Assassin #2.
  • If you thought only Jim Ross rattled off wrestlers’ credentials you’d be wrong because Solie detailed McGraw’s educational history and demeanor within two breaths of air.
  • Assassin #1 threw a right hand to Jones’ head, but the effect was felt more by Assassin #1 due to Jones’ allegedly rock-hard head.
  • After both Assassins took turns raking Jones’ eyes McGraw got the hot tag.
  • Atomic drop by McGraw to Assassin #2.
  • Back drop.
  • Assassin #1 came in, rolled up McGraw, and got the pin.

Rating: **

Summary: Decent tag match to warm up the crowd.

Solie and Caudle welcome us to the show and inform us that “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes is the #1 contender to the NWA World title and wants a shot at the winner of tonight’s main event.

An extremely young Tony Schiavone is back in Flair’s dressing room while Piper and Flair chat in the background.

Match 2: Kevin Sullivan and Mark Lewin (w/ Gary Hart) versus Johnny Weaver and Scott McGhee

Highlights:

  • Although not mentioned here Lewin was also known as the Purple Haze.
  • Pair of dropkicks by McGhee to Sullivan.
  • Criss-cross by Weaver and Sullivan until Sullivan put on the brakes before getting hammered.
  • False tag by McGhee.
  • Nerve hold by Lewin to McGhee.
  • McGhee reversed a head shot to the top turnbuckle with one of his own to Sullivan.
  • Hot tag Weaver.
  • Bulldog by Weaver to Sullivan.
  • Bulldog #2 missed.
  • While referee Sonny Fargo was distracted by the incoming McGhee Hart held Weaver’s arm.
  • Lewin then mounted the top turnbuckle and delivered a knee drop to Weaver’s arm.
  • 1-2-3.

Rating: **

Summary: A short tag match showcasing Sullivan and Lewin.

After the match Sullivan and Lewin stomp Weaver until McGhee re-enters the ring and delivers a dropkick to Hart. After Hart removes a foreign object from his boot Lewin takes it and rams it into McGhee’s head busting him WIDE OPEN. Angelo Mosca runs in to aid McGhee but gets nailed by Lewin. After Lewin inflicts more punishment to McGhee Mosca chases the heels away then carries McGhee back to the dressing room.

Barbara Clary is at ringside and interviews a family from Gaffney, SC (home of the big peach). They are all rooting for Flair to win the title tonight.

Meanwhile Tony sits on a couch backstage and interviews seven-time NWA World champion Harley Race who cuts a promo on Flair.

Match 3: Abdullah the Butcher versus Carlos Colon

Highlights:

  • In case you were wondering Carlos Colon is the father of Carlito and Primo. No, he doesn’t spit in people’s faces. If he did he probably would get shot.
  • According to Solie this match was banned in Puerto Rico.
  • Blink and you’ll miss Abdullah using a plastic knife to stab Colon.
  • Head butt by Abdullah.
  • Make that 2.
  • Clothesline followed by an elbow drop.
  • Colon grabbed the plastic knife and returned the favor violently.
  • Abdullah was BUSTED OPEN!
  • Knee lift by Colon.
  • Leg drop.
  • Elbow drop.
  • After a power kick-out which placed Colon atop referee Stu Schwartz Abdullah dropped an elbow onto Schwartz as Colon moved. OUCH!
  • Dropkick by Colon.
  • Figure-four leg lock.
  • Hugo Savinovich ran in and nailed Colon allowing Abdullah the pin.

Rating: ½*

Summary:  Legendary blood feud between these two that wasn’t over by a mile.

Back in the dressing room Tony interviews Angelo Mosca whose triceps muscle was punctured by Lewin earlier. He will be the special referee for the NWA World tag title match later. Angrily he cuts a good promo on Lewin as McGhee sits next to him bleeding profusely.

Barbara interviews a couple of women from “Raleigh, South Carolina.” It’s no wonder why I’ve never heard of this woman. It’d be different if she confused Beaufort, NC with Beaufort, SC, but this was inexcusable. Some of you southern folk out there know I what I mean.

Prior to the next match ring announcer Tom Miller acknowledges “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes with some audio difficulty.

Match 4: “Chief” Wahoo McDaniel and Mark Youngblood versus Dick Slater and Bob Orton, Jr.

Highlights:

  • I won’t offend you by telling you who Bob Orton fathered.
  • However, Caudle offended me by referring to McDaniel and Youngblood as “Indians.” I suppose that it was a different time so I’ll give it a pass.
  • In 1983 Slater and Orton were henchmen for Harley Race and forced Flair into retirement briefly.
  • Slater with a flip over the turnbuckle after a cross-corner whip.
  • Leg drop by Youngblood on Slater’s arm.
  • Somersault rollup by Slater got 2.
  • Side Russian leg sweep by Slater to Youngblood.
  • Military press backbreaker by Orton.
  • Criss-cross into another backbreaker by Orton.
  • That was followed up quickly by a Slater elbow drop.
  • Gutwrench suplex by Slater.
  • McDaniel wasn’t involved in the match yet.
  • After Slater tossed Youngblood outside the ring Orton stomped him repeatedly.
  • With referee Tommy Young distracted Orton dropped Youngblood on the steel railing back-first.
  • After absorbing a Youngblood shoulder block off the ropes Orton delivered a high knee.
  • Back elbow by Slater.
  • Vertical suplex.
  • Youngblood countered a piledriver with a back drop.
  • Double knockout.
  • Hot tag McDaniel.
  • Double noggin knocker.
  • Inverted atomic drop by McDaniel to Orton. The latter sold it like he’d been shot. Awesome!
  • Belly-to-back suplex by Slater to McDaniel.
  • Leg drop by Slater.
  • Double back elbow to McDaniel.
  • Elbow and knee drop by Orton.
  • Slater came off the top rope but nailed Orton instead of McDaniel.
  • Atomic drop by McDaniel to Slater.
  • Double chop to Slater.
  • Leg drop by Youngblood as Orton tossed McDaniel outside the ring.
  • Dropkick by Youngblood to Orton.
  • Add one for Slater too.
  • Another two dropkicks to Orton.
  • Youngblood missed the fifth dropkick because Slater caught Orton coming off the ropes.
  • Superplex by Orton.
  • 1-2-3.

 Rating: **1/2

Summary: Longer tag match showcasing Orton and Slater.

Afterwards Orton held McDaniel’s arm as Slater leaped from the wooden steps onto it. Originally he had mounted the top turnbuckle, but I believe he was having an issue with balance. On the other hand, Orton was able to carry out the top rope knee drop onto the arm to further injure McDaniel.

Back in the dressing room Tony interviews Flair who hopes Race knows what he’s in for. He then wishes Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood luck in their tag match. Steamboat warns the Brisco brothers that their title reign will end shortly.

Barbara interviews Rhodes with some audio difficulty. Solie apologizes copiously for the audio issues.

Match 5 for the Mid-Atlantic TV title (no DQ, no time-limit): The Great Kabuki (champion w/ Gary Hart) versus Charlie Brown (from outta town)

Highlights:

  • Brown’s mask versus Kabuki’s title were the stipulations for the first fifteen minutes of this match.
  • It was EXTREMELY obvious that Charlie Brown was the “Boogie-Woogie Man” Jimmy Valiant under a mask. Think Midnight Rider. According to Valiant he had lost a “loser leaves town” match, so Charlie Brown (from outta town) arrived to fill in for him. Uh huh.
  • Outside the ring Brown rammed Kabuki into the ring post head-first.
  • Make that twice.
  • Brown then used a chair on Kabuki.
  • While Hart distracted referee Sonny Fargo Brown split the uprights on Kabuki. YEE-OUCH!
  • Sleeper by Brown.
  • After Kabuki escaped with an eye gouge Brown hooked sleeper #2.
  • Spinning savate kick by Kabuki.
  • Claw hold to Brown’s head.
  • Pair of back drops by Brown.
  • Kabuki leaped from the second turnbuckle and reapplied the claw hold.
  • After Valiant Brown escaped Kabuki mounted the top turnbuckle and reapplied the claw yet again. Gotta admire his dedication.
  • Chop from the top rope by Kabuki.
  • Unsuccessfully Kabuki attempted to remove Brown’s mask.
  • Savate kick #2.
  • After Kabuki missed a kick in the corner Brown delivered an elbow drop for the pin.
  • WE HAVE A NEW CHAMPION!

Rating: **

Summary: Very surprising finish as I thought Brown would lose the mask.

Caudle interviews local radio disc jockey Dude Walker.

Tony is backstage with Race, Orton, and Slater. Orton stated he collected the $25,000 bounty then explained why he attacked McDaniel earlier tonight. Race promises to hurt Flair’s neck.

To make up for the earlier technical difficulties Barbara interviews Rhodes in the broadcast area. Rhodes is ready to challenge the winner of tonight’s match.

Match 6 (dog collar): US champion Greg Valentine versus “Rowdy” Roddy Piper

Highlights:

  • Solie mentioned Piper’s prior ear injury. That becomes important later.
  • Both men played tug-o’-war with their necks using the dog collar.
  • Piper got the early advantage and whipped Valentine with the chain.
  • A right hand by Piper sent Valentine face-first to the previously bloodied canvas.
  • Bill Apter was at ringside taking pictures.
  • Valentine caught Piper with a chain shot to the ear.
  • He then wrapped the chain around Piper’s eyes.
  • Knee lift by Piper.
  • Piper wrapped the chain around the mouth of Valentine.
  • He tied the chain around the turnbuckle to hang Valentine.
  • Valentine was BUSTED OPEN!
  • Valentine rammed Piper ear-first into the ring post then into a pile of chairs.
  • Piper was BUSTED OPEN at the ear.
  • Piper’s balance/equilibrium was thrown off due to the ear injury.
  • Elbow drop by Valentine.
  • Make that 2.
  • Upon seeing his own blood Piper exploded with chain shots causing another face-first fall by Valentine.
  • Clothesline by Valentine.
  • Knee drop.
  • Vertical suplex by Piper.
  • Sleeper by Valentine.
  • Valentine mounted the second turnbuckle and walloped Piper in the back of the neck with his forearm.
  • Elbow drop.
  • He mounted the second turnbuckle again only to get pulled down to the canvas by Piper.
  • Piper hog-tied Valentine for the pin.

Rating: ***1/2

Summary: Extremely bloody brawl that helped to make both guys’ careers. For that I’ll add an extra ½*. According to his DVD and book Piper lost 50% of his hearing in his left ear due to this match. Yikes!

After the match Valentine attacks Piper and chokes him with the chain. Referee Stu Schwartz breaks up the melee. Not surprisingly Piper receives a great ovation.

Back in the dressing room Tony interviews Flair again. McDaniel sits beside Flair with his arm bandaged up. Flair thanks McDaniel for his preparation for tonight’s match. McDaniel has the utmost confidence in Flair.

Back to ringside Barbara interviews Don Kernodle.

Match 7 for the NWA World tag team titles: Jack and Gerry Brisco (champions) versus Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood

Highlights:

  • As stated earlier Angelo Mosca was the special referee.
  • Steamboat escaped a hammerlock by Jack by leaping overhead then delivered an arm drag.
  • Shoulder block in the corner to Gerry by Youngblood.
  • Steamboat mounted the top turnbuckle and delivered a chop to Gerry’s arm.
  • Youngblood mounted the top turnbuckle and hit a double axe handle to Gerry’s arm.
  • Knee drop by Jack to Steamboat.
  • Double underhook suplex by Gerry to Steamboat.
  • Key lock.
  • While in the key lock Steamboat lifted Gerry up and tossed him overhead. Impressive!
  • Vertical suplex by Jack to Youngblood.
  • Double three-point stance tackle by the Briscos to Youngblood. Perhaps they thought he was a Sooner.
  • Vertical suplex by Gerry.
  • Abdominal stretch into a pinning attempt by Gerry.
  • Gerry argued with Mosca, shoved him, but then got shoved down hard.
  • After a chop Youngblood made the hot tag.
  • Steamboat mounted the top turnbuckle and delivered a chop.
  • Series of chops by Steamboat to Gerry.
  • After a slam Steamboat pressed Youngblood atop Gerry and got the pin.
  • The crowd went wild!
  • WE HAVE NEW CHAMPIONS!

Rating: *****

Summary: That was a superb tag match with quick tags, fluid chain wrestling, and exciting high spots that created positive crowd response. Unfortunately Jay Youngblood died in 1985 supposedly after rupturing his spleen in a match against the Sheepherders in Australia. RIP Jay Romero.

After the match the Briscos toss Steamboat outside the ring and then Mosca shoulder-first into the ring post. While Gerry applies the figure-four leg lock to Youngblood Jack splashes him. Jack attempts to deliver a move from the top turnbuckle, but Mosca catches him in mid-flight. Steamboat and Youngblood recover to chase off the Briscos. That was great!

The credits roll as a significant amount of time is needed to assemble the cage. See, before promotions began hanging the cage above the ring they would bring it to the ring in four segments and then fasten them together.

Back in the dressing room Flair, in his customary robe, paces while waiting for the cage to be erected. Tony then interviews Jimmy Valiant Charlie Brown who is extremely excited. Fortunately he didn’t kiss Tony here. Next Tony interviews Piper who tells Valentine that he beat him and is aiming for the US title. After that Jay Youngblood and Ricky Steamboat revel over their fifth reign as World tag team champions.

Barbara interviews Rhodes with three ladies in his arms. While the ladies choose Flair as the victor Dusty doesn’t care. Gee, do you think Rhodes was craving the spotlight here?

The National Anthem is performed by James “Tiny” Weeks.

Match 8 for the NWA World title (steel cage): Harley Race (champion) versus “Nature Boy” Ric Flair

Highlights:

  • Fireworks, entrance smoke, “Also Sprach Zarathustra”, and loud cheers brought Flair to the ring.
  • Race, rumored to have been enticed by Vince McMahon, Jr. not to show up tonight according to this article, received boos upon his entrance.
  • Gene Kiniski was the special referee.
  • Speaking of Kiniski he exerted his authority after Race didn’t give Flair a clean break.
  • High knee by Race
  • He missed the standing head butt though.
  • Vertical suplex by Race.
  • He then missed an elbow drop.
  • Knee drop to the head by Race.
  • In lieu of instituting a five count while Race was choking Flair against the ropes Kiniski pulled Race off Flair. I realize that Kiniski was a former NWA champ himself; however, it’s not his job to do that.
  • Piledriver by Race.
  • Elbow drop.
  • Swinging neckbreaker.
  • Race then tossed Flair into the cage.
  • Pancake.
  • Head butt.
  • Standing head butt.
  • Again Race rammed Flair face-first into the cage.
  • Make it a third trip for Flair.
  • Flair was BUSTED OPEN!
  • Again Kiniski pulled Race off Flair. C’mon, Gene, this isn’t boxing!
  • Turnabout is fair play as Kiniski pulled Flair off Race resulting in a head butt from Race.
  • Flair reversed a cross-corner whip sending Race head-first into the ring post.
  • Thank goodness I’m not afraid of heights as the camera view is from the rafters looking down.
  • Race was BUSTED OPEN!
  • Flair rammed Race face-first into the cage.
  • Knee drop by Flair.
  • Piledriver got 2.
  • Double underhook suplex got 2.
  • Race took another trip to the cage.
  • Add one more for good measure.
  • I shake my head as Kiniski again was exerting his authority physically…this time with Flair.
  • Race retaliated with a head butt down near the Falkland Islands if you catch my drift.
  • Much to Kiniski’s chagrin Race raked Flair’s face against the cage.
  • Race shot Flair into the cage yet again.
  • Elbow drop by a very confident Flair.
  • Belly-to-back suplex.
  • Figure-four leg lock.
  • Flair’s blade job was quite gruesome.
  • Race reversed the hold but they ended up in the ropes.
  • In a great big of psychology Race attempted to suplex Flair, but Flair fell on top of him.
  • Race mounted the second turnbuckle and hit the diving head butt.
  • Vertical suplex.
  • Another shot to the cage for Flair who fell between the ropes and the cage.
  • Kiniski pulled Race off Flair again this time by the hair. Sheesh!
  • Flair blocked then countered with a vertical suplex.
  • He missed an elbow drop.
  • An errant head butt by Race knocked Kiniski down.
  • Flair mounted the top turnbuckle and hit a high cross-body block causing Race to trip over Kiniski.
  • 1-2-3.
  • WE HAVE A NEW CHAMPION!

Rating: *****

Summary:  Fantastic main event that made Flair’s career. I gave an extra ½* due to the historical value of this match.

After the match Angelo Mosca runs into the cage and lifts Flair in the air with the championship belt. Other babyfaces join him in the ring to celebrate this great moment. Mosca puts Flair on his shoulders for a victory lap within the cage. Flair’s wife, Beth, enters the cage and hugs her glorious husband.

Flair gets on the microphone and thanks the crowd for their support. “This is the greatest night of my life” exclaims the new World champion.

Back in the dressing room Tony interviews the new NWA World champion who thanks his peers, promoter, and fans. Steamboat congratulates him with a handshake as champagne is then poured on Flair’s head. Rhodes interrupts the celebration and congratulates Flair. C’mon, bookerman, if you want the spotlight put yourself in the main event next year. Oh, wait…

Interestingly Caudle contemplates Race’s thinking with respect to being champion for the last time. Yes, Bob, in fact this was the last time Race held the NWA World title.

Backstage Barbara interviews Race who disgruntledly feels that (this event) “was arranged for (Flair).” In other words, consider the torch passed. Race informs us that he’s not going away. We’ll see. According to his shoot interview he asked Crockett for the money up front because he didn’t trust the gate/closed-circuit revenue.

Tony interviews both the World champ and the World tag team champs. Again Flair offers kudos to Steamboat and Youngblood.

Conclusion: With this being the first supershow it’s easy to tear down the poor pacing of the show, the audio issues, and Barbara, but most of these are excusable. Jim Crockett Promotions treated this show like it was a big deal because not only was it a big deal but also a great show.

With that being said the final three matches on this show are must-see matches for every wrestling fan with one caveat. With all the blood and grudge matches involved this is NOT a show for young children. Please put the kiddies to bed before firing up this great show.

Lastly, in spite of his behavior outside the ring Flair was one of the best performers if not the best. This was his crowning moment that made him the king of the mountain, that is, until January 23, 1984. I’ll discuss that next time out.

Stay tuned for MSG 1/23/84 from Rock Star Gary!

Buyrate: NONE (PPV didn’t exist yet.)

Comments? Suggestions? Send them to me at [email protected] and follow me on Twitter (@rockstargary202).