Rock Star Gary reflects on NWA Starrcade ’87

Live from Chicago, IL

Airdate: November 26, 1987

Attendance:  8,000 (sold out)

Hosted by Tony Schiavone & Jim Ross

Since 1983, Starrcade had been an annual tradition for Jim Crockett Promotions. However, by 1987, Vince McMahon was steadily knocking down the smaller territories (e.g. AWA, Stampede, etc.) yet still wanted to hurt the WWF’s biggest rival where it hurt the most as well.

So, in the first of many battles between the WWF and JCP, he held Survivor Series on the same night as this show and strong-armed cable companies using WrestleMania IV as leverage for exclusivity. Mind you, this was Crockett’s very first PPV. OUCH!

Match 1 (six-man): “Hot Stuff” Eddie Gilbert, Larry Zbyszko, & Rick Steiner (w/ Baby Doll) versus Michael “P.S.” Hayes, “Gorgeous” Jimmy Garvin, & Sting

Highlights:

  • Sting received quite the ovation from the Chicago faithful.
  • To begin the match, Rick ran Sting over with a pair of Steinerlines. However, on attempt #3, he missed crashing to the concrete floor.
  • Sting then gave him a plancha. Woohoo!
  • After mounting the top turnbuckle, Sting delivered a missile dropkick to Rick.
  • As Zbyszko and Gilbert came in to assist their partner, Hayes and Jimmy dropkicked them down to the mat.
  • All six men were in the ring.
  • Hayes, Sting and Jimmy then whipped Rick, Zbyszko, and Gilbert into one another.
  • After order was restored, Sting tagged Hayes in who mounted the second turnbuckle and nailed Rick.
  • Jimmy tagged in and gave Rick a back drop.
  • Zbyszko then tagged in to a chorus of boos thanks to his previous work at his former employer, the AWA.
  • Thereafter, Hayes tagged back in, gave Zbyszko a back elbow, and then performed the moonwalk for the Chicago faithful.
  • After Zbyszko tagged out to Gilbert, Sting tagged in, mounted the second turnbuckle, and nailed Gilbert.
  • Sting then leaped over Gilbert then delivered a clothesline.
  • After Rick reversed a cross-corner whip, Jimmy gave him a sunset flip for 2.
  • Zbyszko tagged in and gave Jimmy a savate kick followed by a powerslam.
  • Gilbert tagged in and gave Jimmy an atomic drop followed by a backbreaker for 2.
  • After a slam, Gilbert missed an elbow drop.
  • Rick tagged in and gave Jimmy a powerslam for 2.
  • He then applied a bear hug, but he backed Jimmy into the corner.
  • Next, he gave Jimmy a cross-corner whip but came up empty on his follow-through.
  • Zbyszko then tagged in and hooked an abdominal stretch on Jimmy.
  • Ten minutes elapsed.
  • After escaping the stretch, Jimmy tagged in Sting.
  • Gilbert came in and tossed Sting over the top rope to the concrete floor. Referee Mike Figueroa didn’t see it as Baby Doll distracted him. This referee also worked both SuperClash for the AWA and the Wrestling Classic for the WWF. Thanks to ring announcer Tom Miller for mentioning his name since neither Tony nor Ross could bother.
  • Upon Sting’s return to the ring, Gilbert gave him a vertical suplex for 2.
  • Zbyszko tagged in, but Sting blocked a suplex attempt then gave him one of his own.
  • Three minutes remained in the match.
  • Rick tagged in and hooked a sleeper on Sting.
  • To break the hold, Sting rammed Rick face-first into the top turnbuckle.
  • Zbyszko came in, got reversed on a cross-corner whip, but ate the top turnbuckle. I hope he had a COLD beverage to wash it down.
  • Two minutes left.
  • Nonetheless, Hayes tagged in and gave Gilbert both a cross-corner whip and a back drop.
  • All six men were in the ring again.
  • After ten-punch count-alongs were completed, Hayes gave Zbyszko a bulldog but only got 2 thanks to a foot on the bottom rope.
  • Hayes then applied a sleeper to Zbyszko, but Gilbert mounted the top turnbuckle and nailed him while Figueroa was distracted by Rick and Jimmy.
  • One minute left.
  • Rick tagged back in and applied a bear hug to Hayes.
  • He then converted it into a belly-to-belly suplex but only got 2.
  • Gilbert tagged in, but Hayes hooked an inside cradle for 2 with only fifteen seconds left.
  • In a last-ditch effort, Hayes hooked a sunset flip on Gilbert, but time expired before the pinfall could be completed.

Rating: ***

Summary:  Exciting match that showcased everyone, but a Sting pin would have brought the house down.

After the match, Sting gives Rick a Stinger Splash to a raucous ovation. I think this guy might be an up-and-comer.

Backstage, Missy Hyatt stammers over her lines then throws it back to Tony.

Match 2 for the UWF title: ”Dr. Death” Steve Williams (champion) versus NWA Western States Heritage champion Barry Windham

Highlights:

  • To begin the match, Williams won a criss-cross by giving Windham a hip toss.
  • Williams then pressed Windham overhead until Windham escaped.
  • He then rolled Williams up off the ropes for 2.
  • After some mat wrestling, Williams countered a side headlock with a belly-to-back suplex.
  • Upon giving Williams a gutwrench suplex, Windham countered a side headlock with his own belly-to-back suplex.
  • He then leapfrogged over Williams, but when Williams tried to do the same, he accidentally received a head butt to the groin. YEE-OUCH!
  • Since both wrestlers were faces, Windham didn’t go for the kill. Will it backfire?
  • Obviously, Williams stalled to regain his composure.
  • Upon doing so, Williams ducked a cross body block sending Windham into the ropes, over the top rope, and down to the concrete floor.
  • He even ate the timekeeper’s table, yet it doesn’t taste anything like the steel railing.
  • When Windham returned to the ring, Williams caught him in an Oklahoma roll for the pin.
  • That was sudden.

Rating: *1/2

Summary: That accident to Williams must have caused them to go home early. Six minutes wasn’t enough for two wrestlers who can go thirty easily. Rightfully so, the crowd booed the decision.

Match 3 (scaffold): NWA US tag team champions The Midnight Express (w/ Jim Cornette & Big Bubba Rogers) versus the Rock’n’Roll Express

Highlights:

  • Before Morton climbed up the scaffold, Rogers gave him the Bubba slam in the ring.
  • Due to Morton being down in the ring, Gibson had to face Eaton and Lane by himself.
  • Immediately, Lane rammed Gibson face-first into the scaffold railing. Not quite as tasty as the steel railing however.
  • Eaton then rammed Gibson into the scaffold.
  • Rogers tried to climb the scaffold, but Morton snagged Cornette’s racquet and WALLOPED him with it.
  • Morton then climbed to the scaffold with the racquet and nailed Lane with it.
  • After nailing Eaton with it repeatedly, he rammed Eaton into the scaffold.
  • Gibson was BUSTED OPEN.
  • Eaton, who was also BUSTED OPEN, tossed powder in both Morton and Gibson’s eyes.
  • Morton then nailed Eaton with the racquet again almost sending Eaton to his death on the concrete floor.
  • As Eaton repeatedly nailed Morton with the racquet, Ross compared him to Andre Dawson who won the 1987 NL MVP while being on the last-place Chicago Cubs.
  • Regardless, when Eaton made his way over to the other side of the scaffold, Gibson nailed him with the scaffold railing.
  • Lane then clung to the ladder affixed to the scaffold while Morton tried to knock him down.
  • In the meantime, Eaton relentlessly nailed Gibson with the racquet.
  • As Morton and Lane fought on the ladder, Gibson retrieved the racquet and hit Eaton.
  • One blow from Gibson knocked Eaton straight into 1990.
  • Morton then knocked Lane down to the mat.
  • With the 2-on-1 advantage, Morton nailed Eaton with the racquet until the Rock’n’Roll Express sent him down to the mat.
  • The Rock’n’Roll Express won.

Rating: **

Summary:  Not much can come from this type of match other than serious injury upon falling.

After the match, Rogers climbs up to the scaffold and tosses the racquet down to the mat. In order to escape, Morton nails Rogers down in Southern Cobb County and climbs down the ladder. When Morton gets down to the mat, he wears Rogers’ hat and coat to mock him.

Backstage, Bob Caudle interviews Jimmy and Hayes with Precious. Amazingly, Hayes is wearing a suit and tie. Meanwhile, Jimmy wishes his brother Ron well in retaining the World title tonight. Afterwards, Caudle interviews Williams who will go “210%” to protect his belt. That OU education, ladies and gentlemen.

If you’re wondering why there is such a delay here, they needed time to take down the scaffold.

Match 4 (TV title unification): NWA World TV champion the “Russian Nightmare” Nikita Koloff versus UWF TV champion Terry Taylor (w/ “Hot Stuff” Eddie Gilbert)

Highlights:

  • LOUD “Ni-ki-ta” chant emanated from the Chicago faithful.
  • HARD cross-corner whip by Nikita hurt Taylor’s back.
  • A subsequent back drop by Nikita got 2.
  • Afterward, Taylor exited the ring to regroup.
  • After a cross-corner whip by Nikita, he ate knee on his follow-through.
  • Taylor then tried to pin him with his feet on the bottom rope but only got 2.
  • After giving Taylor another cross-corner whip, Nikita delivered the Russian Hammer.
  • However, he missed the Russian sickle knocking himself senseless in the corner.
  • Upon taking Nikita outside the ring, Taylor made him taste the steel railing. It must have tasted like the Butcher’s Goulash at the Bohemian House.
  • He then rammed Nikita shoulder-first into the ring post.
  • While Taylor distracted referee Earl Hebner, Gilbert rammed Nikita’s arm into the apron.
  • Shortly after, a knee drop by Taylor got 2.
  • Notwithstanding, a sunset flip by Taylor was countered with a knuckle sandwich.
  • Following that, Nikita blocked a vertical suplex then delivered one of his own.
  • He then came back with the ten-punch count-along.
  • Taylor countered that with an inverted atomic drop but only got 2 because Hebner saw his foot on the ropes.
  • Seeing Taylor distracted by Hebner, Nikita rolled him up for 2.
  • Next, Taylor tried a piledriver but received a back drop instead.
  • After Taylor led Nikita on a chase around the ring, Gilbert nailed Nikita in the knee (supposedly with a chair according to Ross) behind Hebner’s back. SNEAKY!
  • Taylor then applied the Gilbert-assisted figure-four leg lock until Hebner finally caught him in the act.
  • Again, Taylor distracted Hebner so that Gilbert could hurt Nikita.
  • Accordingly, Nikita brought Gilbert up on the apron as Taylor charged; on the other hand, Taylor accidentally knocked Gilbert to the apron rather than hitting Nikita.
  • Nikita then hit the Russian sickle for the pin and became the unified TV champion!

Rating: **

Summary:  Predictable finish for a match that I expected to be shorter.

Match 5 for the NWA World tag team titles: the “Enforcer” Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard (w/ JJ Dillon) versus the Road Warriors (w/ “Precious” Paul Ellering)

Highlights:

  • Gee, I wonder who the Chicago faithful will get behind?
  • At the onset, Hawk reversed a cross-corner whip from Arn but ate knee on his follow-through.
  • Arn then mounted the top turnbuckle, got caught, pressed, and then received a slam down to the mat.
  • Blanchard tagged in but ate a clothesline from Hawk.
  • He then exited the ring to regroup only to be caught, pressed, and slammed back into the ring by Animal.
  • Again, he tried to escape, but Hawk caught him and tossed him back in.
  • He then followed with a nice dropkick for 2.
  • Animal then tagged in, gave Blanchard a cross-corner whip, but ate boot on his follow-through.
  • Blanchard then mounted the top turnbuckle only to fall victim to a powerslam by Animal.
  • That only got 2 thanks to a save by Arn.
  • Speaking of the Enforcer, Arn tagged in, got reversed on a cross-corner whip, floated over Animal, but received a clothesline for all his hard work. Sometimes, life is just tough.
  • Anyway, Blanchard came in only to get nailed by Animal.
  • Shortly after, Hawk applied a bear hug to Arn, but Blanchard came in to double-team Hawk.
  • They gave him a cross-corner whip, but Hawk responded with a double clothesline to a LOUD ovation.
  • That only got 2 as Blanchard put his foot on the bottom rope.
  • Animal tagged in and applied a bear hug to Blanchard. When Blanchard received a shot from Hawk, he teetered backward but remained in the bear hug.
  • Animal then followed with an inverted atomic drop.
  • Blanchard kept getting up after being nailed by Animal; thus, Animal delivered a dropkick to keep him down.
  • After winning a chase around the ring against Animal, Arn then attempted a piledriver but received a back drop instead.
  • A military press slam by Animal of Arn was followed by a military press by Hawk of Blanchard, but Arn clipped Hawk’s knee.
  • Arn then wrapped Hawk’s knee around the ring post.
  • While Arn distracted referee Tommy Young, Blanchard nailed Hawk’s knee with a chair.
  • Back in the ring, Arn gave Hawk a DDT but only got 2 thanks to a HUGE kick-out by Hawk.
  • Afterward, Arn attempted a spinning toe hold, but Hawk kicked him into the top turnbuckle face-first.
  • Blanchard then tagged in and applied a figure-four leg lock.
  • Arn tagged in and tried to pin Hawk’s shoulders to the mat, but when he tried to use leverage, Hawk crotched him. OUCH!
  • Hot tag Animal.
  • Animal then gave Arn a dropkick followed by an elbow to Blanchard.
  • As Animal came off the ropes, Blanchard tripped him.
  • When all four men were in the ring, Blanchard bumped into Young sending him to the concrete floor.
  • Arn then charged at Animal but was backdropped over the top rope to the concrete floor next to Young. Uh oh.
  • Back in the ring, the Road Warriors gave Blanchard a double clothesline and followed with a Doomsday Device to Arn.
  • 1-2-3.
  • WE HAVE NEW CHAMPIONS!
  • The crowd came UNGLUED!
  • NO! Don’t do it! NO! Young saw Animal toss Arn over the top rope, so he disqualified the Road Warriors. Dammit!
  • Despite the ruling, the Road Warriors went backstage with the belts as the crowd chanted “BULLSHIT!”

Rating: ***1/2

Summary: Really good match with a Dusty/crappy finish. Seriously, Big Dust, you couldn’t let the Road Warriors win the belts in their home town? Sheesh!

Backstage, UWF color commentator Jack Gregory speaks with Magnum T.A.

Also backstage, Caudle interviews unified World TV champion Nikita who sports a decent shiner after his match against Taylor. While being a proud champion, he wants to become World champion someday. Afterward, Caudle interviews Dillon about the upcoming US title match.

Match 6 for the NWA US title (steel cage): The “Total Package” Lex Luger (champion w/ JJ Dillon) versus The “American Dream” Dusty Rhodes

Highlights:

  • This match was Rhodes’ career versus Luger’s title.
  • Miller announced that Johnny Weaver will hold the key to the cage at ringside.
  • Early on, Rhodes blocked a head shot to the cage and delivered a bionic elbow.
  • After another bionic elbow, Rhodes gave Luger an atomic drop.
  • He then applied the Weaver lock (sleeper), but Luger immediately went to the ropes.
  • A second Weaver lock was applied, but Luger made the ropes again.
  • Upon giving Rhodes a snap mare, Luger missed an elbow drop by a mile.
  • He then gave Rhodes a cross-corner whip but came up empty on his follow-through.
  • After giving Rhodes a low blow, Luger rammed him face-first into the cage.
  • Rhodes was BUSTED OPEN!
  • Another trip to the cage earned Luger a 2 count.
  • He then gave Rhodes another snap mare and hit the elbow drop this time for 2.
  • Rhodes reversed an Irish whip and delivered a dropkick. It must be a special night. I believe he might have the Lowenbrau on ice backstage.
  • Nevertheless, Luger responded with a backbreaker.
  • When Luger attempted the Torture Rack, Rhodes grabbed the cage to save himself.
  • Shortly after, Rhodes did his best Bruiser Brody impression and no-sold Luger’s offense.
  • He then gave Luger a DDT but only got 2.
  • After Luger missed a clothesline, Rhodes applied Weaver Lock #3.
  • Meanwhile, outside the ring, Dillon knocked Weaver OUT COLD and stole the key.
  • When referee Earl Hebner tried to stop him from unlocking the cage, Dillon switched strategies and threw a chair into the ring.
  • But when Luger tried to pick the chair up, Rhodes gave him a DDT on it.
  • 1-2-3.
  • WE HAVE A NEW CHAMPION!

Rating: ***

Summary: While Rhodes walked Luger through the match quite well, there must be further story development for his not-putting Luger, who was considered the next big thing, over.

After the match, Rhodes leaves the cage and embraces Weaver while a frustrated Dillon stands in the ring in disbelief.

Match 7 for the NWA World title (steel cage): Ron Garvin (champion) versus “Nature Boy” Ric Flair (w/ JJ Dillon)

Highlights:

  • Back on 9/25, Ron defeated Flair for the title in Detroit, MI. Considering it was JCP’s debut at Joe Louis Arena, that’s quite a treat.
  • On a somber note, some boos could be heard when Ron was introduced. Considering he’s a babyface, that’s not good.
  • This match was no-DQ with no time limit. We could be here all night.
  • After a series of chops, Ron gave Flair a hip toss out of the corner.
  • While Ron held a side head lock, a LOUD “Garvin sucks” chant emanated from the Chicago faithful. Yikes!
  • Upon receiving another series of chops, a Flair flop occurred.
  • Ron then followed with an elbow smash, a cross-corner whip, and then a back drop.
  • As Ross compared Ron to Rocky Marciano, Ron gave Flair the ten-punch count-along.
  • Another cross-corner whip by Ron resulted in another back drop.
  • He then gave Flair the Garvin stomp.
  • After losing a toe-to-toe battle, Flair hit Ron within the confines of the South side of Chicago. Don’t forget the no-DQ stip.
  • He then gave Ron an inverted atomic drop.
  • Upon giving Ron a snap mare, Flair delivered a knee drop for 2.
  • Flair then gave Ron a knee crusher and followed with a rope-assisted figure-four leg lock to a BIG ovation.
  • Ron countered the hold, and referee Tommy Young separated the wrestler’s legs.
  • Truly, Flair had the crowd in the palm of his hand.
  • At the ten-minute mark, Flair tried to ram Ron into the cage but was blocked.
  • Ron then reversed an Irish whip and sent Flair face-first into the cage.
  • After giving Flair another trip to the cage, Ron grated Flair’s face against it. Cheeseburger, anyone?
  • As you can imagine, Flair was BUSTED OPEN!
  • Another trip to the cage for Flair caused him to climb to the corner of the cage.
  • While there, Ron rammed Flair face-first into the steel beam.
  • A second ramming sent Flair crashing down to the mat.
  • Unlike in September, Flair didn’t set himself up for another sunset flip.
  • Upon receiving a series of chops, Flair gave Ron an elbow smash.
  • He then mounted the top turnbuckle, but got caught and slammed down to the mat.
  • Ron then hooked the figure-four leg lock, but Flair made the ropes.
  • After exchanging more chops, Flair tried to ram Ron into the cage again but failed. On the other hand, Ron successfully rammed Flair into the cage yet again.
  • He then mounted the top turnbuckle, hit a flying body press, but only got 2.
  • Next, he countered a hip toss with a backslide and got another 2.
  • Once again, Ron grated Flair’s face against the cage.
  • Yet again, Flair climbed to the corner of the cage, and Ron rammed him into the steel beam again.
  • He then headbutted Flair resulting in Flair’s being crotched on the top rope. OUCH!
  • Subsequently, Ron tried the top rope sunset flip, but Flair hooked the top rope to block it.
  • Young knocked Flair’s hands off the ropes, and Ron almost got 3.
  • Ron tried another ten-punch count-along, but Flair carried him to the opposite corner SQUISHING Young.
  • The Hands of Stone hit, but Young was still down resulting in a false pin.
  • Young recovered enough but only counted 2.
  • Flair then used a stungun using the cage to knock Ron out.
  • 1-2-3.
  • WE HAVE A NEW CHAMPION!
  • In spite of the heel victory, the crowd went wild!

Rating: ****

Summary: Great match that succeeded in giving Flair his fifth NWA title victory.

After the match, Flair hugs Dillon while Jim Crockett extends his hand in appreciation of his hard work.

Conclusion:  While this was a good if not great show, the cracks in the foundation of the promotion were beginning to show. As I examined the crowds in Chicago throughout 1987, it was a no-brainer as a choice to host Starrcade; however, booking a Dusty finish AGAINST the hometown heroes was beyond baffling. Also, Dusty’s going over Luger at least was part of a long-term story but seemed inexcusable by itself. And, on top of that, career curtain-jerker/midcarder/crossdresser Ron Garvin was the ONLY idiot willing to be a transitional champion so that Flair could regain the title at this show. That says a lot when Jimmy Garvin could have been a better candidate due to the Precious angle. I’m looking forward to 1988, but my joy may be diminishing as JCP continues to shoot itself in the foot.

Lastly, it should be noted that Jim Crockett Promotions also held preliminary cards in Greensboro, NC and New Orleans, LA prior to showing the event on closed-circuit.

See you for WWF Saturday Night’s Main Event XIII!

Rating: 9.50

Comments? Suggestions? Send them to me at [email protected] and follow me on Twitter (@rockstargary202). Also please be sure to check out all of my reflections at rockstargary.com.