Rock Star Gary reflects on NWA Crockett Cup ’88

Live from Greenville, SC & Greensboro, NC

Airdate: April 22 & 23, 1988

Attendance:  4,440 & 6,200 respectively

Hosted by Tony Schiavone & Jim Ross

After the incredibly successful and exciting Clash, how does Jim Crockett Promotions follow up? They scheduled a twenty-four team tournament, but, as you will find out, there are only twenty-two teams. This ought to be interesting…

April 22:

Match 1 (first round): The “Boogie-Woogie Man” Jimmy Valiant & the Mighty Wilbur versus Dick Murdoch & Ivan Koloff (w/ Paul Jones)

Highlights:

  • Let’s hope the makeshift team of Valiant and Wilbur were there just to energize the crowd.
  • Early on, Murdoch and Ivan tried a double wristlock on Wilbur, but his massive weight helped him to toss them down.
  • Upon receiving a back drop from Valiant, Ivan mounted the top turnbuckle and lowered the boom on him.
  • Wilbur tagged in and clotheslined Ivan.
  • Shortly after, Valiant received a knee in the back from Murdoch then succumbed to the Russian sickle from Ivan.
  • 1-2-3.
  • Murdoch and Ivan advanced.

Rating: DUD

Summary:  Severely clipped match with barely any highlights.

Match 2 (first round): NWA World TV champion Mike Rotunda & Rick Steiner (w/ Kevin Sullivan) versus “Dr. Death” Steve Williams & Ron Simmons

Highlights:

  • After a leap frog, Williams slammed Steiner and gave him a pair of four-point stance tackles.
  • Upon a third attempt, however, Williams came up empty on his follow-through.
  • Steiner then gave Williams a cross-corner whip followed by a back drop.
  • On the other hand, Williams no-sold it and clotheslined Steiner.
  • Simmons tagged in and gave Steiner a back elbow.
  • Rotunda tagged in, slammed Simmons, then delivered an elbow drop for 2.
  • Simmons came back with a hip toss followed by a three-point stance tackle for 2.
  • As Steiner tagged in, Williams distracted referee Randy Anderson. In the process, Rotunda nailed Simmons.
  • After a clip, all four men were in the ring. Simmons was dispatched outside the ring, and Sullivan nailed him with the Golden spike.
  • Upon dispatching Steiner outside the ring, Williams gave Rotunda the ten-punch count-along.
  • While Williams gave Rotunda the Oklahoma Stampede, Anderson called for the bell.
  • Simmons was counted out so the Varsity Club advanced.

Rating: *

Summary: I like the football-themed connection between Williams and Simmons almost as much as Ross does. Nevertheless, it makes sense that the established team beat the makeshift team here.

Matches missing from the first round:

Kendall Windham & the Italian Stallion defeated the Terminator & the Green Machine by forfeit.

The Jive Tones (Tiger Conway & Shaska Whatley) beat Nelson Royal & Rocky King.

Chris Champion & Mark Starr defeated the Mexican Twin Devils (Curtis Thompson & Gene Ligon).

Brad Armstrong & Tim Horner beat Johnny Ace & John Savage

The Sheepherders (w/ Rip Morgan) defeated the Cruel Connection (Gary Royal & George South).

NWA Western States Heritage champion Larry Zbyszko & Al Perez beat Ricky Santana & Joe Cruz (substitute for Shane Douglas).

Match 3 (second round): NWA World tag team champions the “Enforcer” Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard versus Kendall Windham & the Italian Stallion

Highlights:

  • Wait a minute! At the Clash of Champions, Barry Windham and Lex Luger defeated the Horsemen. What happened? On 4/20, Barry turned on Luger to join the Horsemen during a tag team title defense returning the titles to the Horsemen.
  • Kendall countered a slam by Blanchard into an inside cradle for 1.
  • Arn tagged in and gave Kendall a SPINEBUSTER.
  • After a clip, Stallion tagged in and gave Arn a flying back elbow.
  • Upon slamming Arn, Stallion got 2.
  • He then gave Arn a cross-corner whip but fell victim to a DDT.
  • 1-2-3.
  • The world champs advanced.

Rating: DUD

Summary: This match was better suited for World Championship Wrestling than here.

Match 4 (second round): The Road Warriors (w/ “Precious” Paul Ellering) versus the Jive Tones

Highlights:

  • Joined in progress as Animal gave Whatley a flying shoulder block.
  • While Hawk distracted referee Teddy Long, the Jive Tones double-teamed Animal.
  • Animal shrugged them off and tagged in Hawk who gave Conway a military press slam.
  • After a clip, Animal shrugged off a double Russian leg sweep by the Jive Tones.
  • Hawk came in and gave Whatley a dropkick and flying shoulder block.
  • All four men were in the ring as Hawk clipped Whatley’s knee.
  • He then mounted the top turnbuckle, hit a flying clothesline, and got the pin.

Rating: *

Summary:  Raise your hand if you thought the Jive Tones might sneak out a victory. OK, then, moving on.

Match 5 (second round): The Fantastics versus NWA Western States Heritage champion Larry Zbyszko & Al Perez (w/ Gary Hart)

Highlights:

  • After Zbyszko put a knee into Rogers’ back, Perez slammed Rogers.
  • Zbyszko tagged in and slammed Rogers.
  • Rogers came right back by mule-kicking Zbyszko.
  • As Zbyszko gave Rogers a back drop, Rogers landed on his feet and delivered a dropkick.
  • Fulton tagged in, mounted the second turnbuckle, and lowered the boom on Zbyszko.
  • Shortly after, Perez tagged in and gave Fulton a German suplex with a bridge for 1.
  • Perez gave Fulton a cross-corner whip and countered a cross body block from the second turnbuckle into a back drop. Nifty!
  • Zbyszko tagged in and gave Fulton a shoulder breaker for 2.
  • It must be COLD in the arena because Perez returned and delivered a shivering forearm to Fulton.
  • As Zbyszko tagged back in, he and Perez tried to double-team Fulton, but Fulton hooked Zbyszko with an inside cradle. When Perez tried to thwart it, he ate a dropkick from Rogers.
  • 1-2-3.
  • The Fantastics advanced.

Rating: **

Summary: Fast-paced tag match with a unique climax.

Match 6 (second round): The “Total Package” Lex Luger & Sting (w/ Magnum T.A.) versus Dick Murdoch & Ivan Koloff (w/ Paul Jones)

Highlights:

  • Due to Barry’s heel turn, Luger lost his partner and Ron Garvin injury later in the show, Sting became Luger’s partner.
  • Speaking of Luger, he reversed an Irish whip and gave Ivan a back drop.
  • After giving Ivan a hip toss, Luger delivered a dropkick. Amazing!
  • He then gave Ivan a gorilla press slam and tagged in Sting.
  • Next, Sting mounted the second turnbuckle and lowered the boom on Ivan.
  • Shortly after, Sting slammed Murdoch but ate an elbow smash.
  • Ivan tagged back in and distracted referee Randy Anderson. Meanwhile, Murdoch used Ivan’s chain to choke Sting much to the horror of the teenage female portion of the Greenville faithful.
  • Ivan then gave Sting a running guillotine as Murdoch nailed Sting again behind Anderson’s back.
  • While Ivan continued to distract Anderson, Murdoch gave Sting a shot to the back with a chair. How dastardly!
  • Back in the ring, Sting reversed a cross-corner whip and delivered the Stinger splash to Murdoch.
  • After Murdoch took Sting with him outside the ring, he made Sting taste the steel railing. It must have tasted like the West End Dip at Smoke on the Water.
  • Murdoch then tried to slam Sting back into the ring, but Sting hooked a cradle and pinned him.

Rating: **1/2

Summary: Really hot match as the older team put over the younger team.

Match 7 (second round): NWA US tag team champions the Midnight Express (w/ Jim Cornette) versus the Sheepherders (w/ Rip Morgan)

Highlights:

  • Quite the anomaly here as both teams were heels. Who will the Greenville faithful choose to cheer?
  • Early on, Lane gave Luke a clothesline for 1 as Luke put his foot on the bottom rope.
  • Eaton tagged in and gave Luke a back elbow.
  • Shortly after, Butch tagged in and made Eaton taste the steel railing. It must have tasted like the carpetbagger at Rick Erwin’s West End Grille.
  • Back in the ring, Butch gave Eaton a back elbow for 1.
  • After a clip, Butch got a false pin on Lane as Morgan distracted referee Tommy Young.
  • With Young still distracted, Eaton used Cornette’s racquet to nail Butch in the back.
  • Lane then pinned Butch.

Rating: ½*

Summary: Due to their American citizenship, the Midnight Express won the Greenville faithful’s vote for this match.

Match 8 (Prince of Darkness): Kevin Sullivan (w/ Rick Steiner) versus “Gorgeous” Jimmy Garvin (w/ Precious)

Highlights:

  • Because each wrestler was blindfolded, neither man could see one another to wrestle him.
  • After what seemed like an eternity, Sullivan tried to slam Jimmy who countered with an inside cradle for the pin.

Rating: DUD

Summary: Unique doesn’t always translate into good.

After the match, Steiner nails Jimmy from behind. When Ron comes to the ring to aid his brother, Rotunda follows shortly thereafter giving the Varsity Club a 3-on-2 advantage. Sullivan then nails Ron in the chest with the golden spike injuring him. Just as Sullivan grabs Precious, Ricky Santana, Kendall Windham, and Johnny Ace come to the Garvins’ aid.

Matches missing from the second round:

The Sheepherders defeated Brad Armstrong & Tim Horner. Yes, they wrestled twice in the second round. Hopefully, they were paid accordingly.

The Powers of Pain defeated Chris Champion & Mark Starr.

Included in the video is the Bunkhouse Stampede final. If you want to learn more about this match, please visit this link.

April 23:

Match 9 (quarterfinals): The Road Warriors (w/ “Precious” Paul Ellering) versus the Powers of Pain (w/ Paul Jones & Ivan Koloff)

Highlights:

  • I’d be surprised if Ross didn’t call this match a slobberknocker.
  • Early on, Animal gave Barbarian a powerslam.
  • As Warlord tagged in, Animal ducked a double-team by the Powers of Pain and delivered a double clothesline.
  • After Hawk failed to roll up Barbarian, he clotheslined him over the top rope down to the concrete floor.
  • Hawk then rammed Barbarian face-first into the steps.
  • Speaking of the steps, Hawk lifted them overhead and tossed them at Barbarian. Wow!
  • Back in the ring, Hawk gave Warlord a dropkick.
  • He then mounted the second turnbuckle and nailed Warlord.
  • Following a fist drop by Hawk, Barbarian tried to save his partner with an elbow drop but hit Warlord instead.
  • Afterward, he clotheslined Hawk as Warlord held him.
  • Upon slamming Hawk, Warlord delivered a leg drop for 2.
  • Barbarian tagged in, gave Hawk a Mafia kick to the head, but only got 2.
  • After Barbarian tossed Hawk out to the concrete floor, Warlord slammed Hawk on it. OUCH!
  • He then grabbed a chair and hit Hawk’s leg.
  • Next, he gave Hawk a powerslam for 2.
  • Warlord tagged in and applied a bear hug to Hawk.
  • Hawk escaped, but Barbarian tagged in and applied a bear hug of his own.
  • After Warlord tagged in and held Hawk, Barbarian accidentally nailed Warlord with a clothesline instead.
  • Hawk then clotheslined Barbarian.
  • Hot tag Animal who gave Barbarian a dropkick followed by a powerslam.
  • Following that, he delivered a shoulder block; however, when he tried to clothesline Barbarian, he nailed referee Randy Anderson instead.
  • After Barbarian missed a diving head butt, the Road Warriors delivered a double clothesline to him.
  • Referee Teddy Long came in and counted the pin.

Rating: **

Summary: Something smells fishy here.

After the match, Long confers with Anderson who disqualifies the Road Warriors when Animal mistakenly ran him over. Talk about convoluted booking. Sigh.

Matches missing from the quarterfinals:

The “Total Package” Lex Luger & Sting (w/ Magnum T.A.) defeated the Midnight Express (w/ Jim Cornette). How’d this one miss the tape?

The Fantastics beat NWA World TV champion Mike Rotunda & Rick Steiner (w/ Kevin Sullivan).

Match 10 (bull rope): Midnight Rider versus JJ Dillon

Highlights:

  • Methinks even Mr. Magoo knew the identity of Midnight Rider.
  • At the onset, Dillon threw powder blinding Midnight Rider.
  • He then used the cowbell as a weapon.
  • According to Ross, if Dillon unmasked Midnight Rider and exposed him as Dusty Rhodes, then the “American Dream” would be suspended for a year. Some critics of his booking wouldn’t mind that decision.
  • Nonetheless, a bionic elbow was countered by a shot down near Brownsville, TX.
  • Dillon then tried to remove the mask but received a low blow in response.
  • Midnight Rider then grinded the cowbell into Dillon’s forehead.
  • Dillon was BUSTED OPEN!
  • Midnight Rider then gave Dillon rope burn on his bloody forehead. Yikes!
  • Afterward, he mounted the second turnbuckle and blasted Dillon with the cowbell.
  • 1-2-3.

Rating: *1/2

Summary: Dillon certainly got his comeuppance for “removing” Rhodes from our eyes temporarily.

After the match, Midnight Rider chokes Dillon until a different masked cowboy enters the ring to brawl with him. Somehow that might be Rhodes’ drinking buddy, Dick Murdoch. Williams comes to the ring to help the Midnight Rider and thwart the evil Texan. After all, Williams was a heel in Texas and was booed mercilessly due to his Oklahoma roots. Nevertheless, the evil Texan nails Williams with the cowbell until Midnight Rider steals it back.

Meanwhile, back to the tournament…

Match 11 (semifinals): The “Total Package” Lex Luger & Sting (w/ Magnum T.A.) versus the Powers of Pain (w/ Paul Jones & Ivan Koloff)

Highlights:

  • In the beginning, Sting attempted a flying headscissors, but Warlord shrugged him off.
  • Barbarian tagged in and gave Sting a cross-corner whip.
  • Sting then leaped to the second turnbuckle and hit a cross body block for 2.
  • In a fascinating turn of events, Magnum took Jones’ riding crop and whipped him with it.
  • Back in the ring, Sting escaped a test of strength with a monkey flip and followed up with a dropkick that sent Barbarian through the ropes to the concrete floor.
  • Luger tagged in and slammed Barbarian.
  • Shortly after, Barbarian gave Sting a powerslam.
  • He then gave Sting a Mafia kick that sent him over the top rope to the concrete floor.
  • Warlord tagged in and slammed Sting.
  • Luger returned and gave Warlord a back elbow.
  • All four men were in the ring.
  • Luger and Sting then gave the Powers of Pain stereo ten-punch count-alongs in opposite corners.
  • As Barbarian lifted Luger for a slam, Sting dropkicked Luger atop him.
  • 1-2-3.

Rating: **

Summary: The crowd loved the babyface team as they advanced to the finals.

Match 12 (semifinals): NWA World tag team champions the “Enforcer” Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard versus the Fantastics

Highlights:

  • After Rogers escaped an atomic drop attempt from Blanchard, he delivered a dropkick.
  • Blanchard then succumbed to a double back drop by the Fantastics.
  • Upon receiving a whip back-first into the corner, Fulton countered a snap mare with a backslide.
  • Fortunately for Arn, he tagged in Blanchard.
  • When Blanchard tossed Fulton outside the ring, he then rammed him back-first into the apron.
  • While referee Teddy Long was occupied with Blanchard and Rogers, Arn gave Fulton a clothesline on the concrete floor.
  • From the apron, Fulton re-entered via sunset flip, but Blanchard tagged in Arn.
  • Shortly after, Arn applied a Blanchard-assisted abdominal stretch.
  • When Rogers distracted Long, Blanchard climbed the ropes and lowered the boom on Fulton for 2.
  • Fulton came back with a face plant to Arn.
  • Hot tag Rogers.
  • All four men were in the ring as the Fantastics gave Blanchard a double dropkick.
  • Since they were in a sharing mood, they gave one to Arn as well.
  • Rogers then mounted the top turnbuckle as the Fantastics gave the Rocket Launcher to Arn.
  • That only got 2 thanks to a save by Blanchard.
  • With Long distracted with Blanchard and Fulton, Arn caught Dillon’s shoe and nailed Rogers.
  • 1-2-3.
  • The Horsemen advanced to the finals.

Rating: ****

Summary: Excellent match as these teams gelled well together and played their roles to a tee.

Match 13 for the NWA World title: “Nature Boy” Ric Flair (champion w/ Barry Windham) versus the “Russian Nightmare” Nikita Koloff

Highlights:

  • In case you missed it at the Clash, Nikita was sporting a crew cut in lieu of shaving his head. Ring announcer Tom Miller announced Nikita’s weight at 260, so Nikita’s “bulking up” was toned down too.
  • As you’d expect, Windham received a loud chorus of boos when Miller introduced him.
  • Flair then got on the microphone and touted his newest Horseman.
  • After some mat wrestling, Koloff gave Flair the ten-punch count-along.
  • However, before Koloff could finish, Flair countered with an inverted atomic drop.
  • Flair then delivered a knee drop but missed a second one.
  • Nikita then dragged Flair to the corner and rammed him groin-first into the ring post. OUCH!
  • Afterward, Nikita applied the figure-four leg lock, but Flair made the ropes.
  • Flair then took Nikita outside the ring and tried to ram him into the ring post but ate it himself.
  • Nikita then made Flair taste the steel railing. It must have tasted like the musket at Natty Greene’s.
  • Back in the ring, Nikita successfully gave Flair the ten-punch count-along.
  • He then gave Flair a cross-corner whip that resulted in a Flair flip.
  • Flair was BUSTED OPEN!
  • When Nikita reared back to nail Flair, he caught referee Tommy Young knocking him down.
  • That gave Flair the opportunity to toss Nikita over the top rope.
  • Having landed on the apron, Nikita mounted the second turnbuckle and gave Flair a flying clothesline for only 2 as Young was late to count.
  • Nikita then clotheslined Flair over the top rope to the concrete floor.
  • To bring Flair back into the ring, Nikita tried a suplex, but Flair escaped.
  • Regardless, Nikita quickly delivered the Russian sickle.
  • Do we have a new champion?
  • 1-2-NO!
  • After giving Flair a hip toss, Flair backdropped Nikita over the top rope to the concrete floor.
  • Accordingly, Young called for the bell disqualifying Flair. BOOOOOOOOOOO!

Rating: ***1/2

Summary: Crappy finish to a really good match.

Match 14 (finals): NWA World tag team champions the “Enforcer” Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard (w/ JJ Dillon) versus the “Total Package” Lex Luger & Sting (w/ Magnum T.A.)

Highlights:

  • After Luger gave Arn a hip toss out of the corner, he delivered a dropkick.
  • Shortly after, Sting reversed an Irish whip and gorilla press-slammed Blanchard.
  • After working on Arn’s arm, Luger rammed him into the turnbuckle while holding a hammerlock.
  • Sting tagged in, mounted the second turnbuckle, and lowered the boom on Arn.
  • He then gave Arn a cross-corner whip, but came up empty on a Stinger Splash.
  • While Dillon occupied referee Tommy Young’s attention, Blanchard tossed Sting over the top rope to the concrete floor.
  • Upon following him outside the ring, Blanchard rammed Sting back-first into the steel railing twice.
  • Back in the ring, Blanchard gave Sting a backbreaker and got 2.
  • Arn tagged in and gave Sting the SPINEBUSTER for 2.
  • When Arn tried to stomp him, Sting caught the boot, stood up, and clotheslined Arn.
  • After Blanchard tagged back in, Sting reversed a cross-corner whip and hit the Stinger splash.
  • Sting applied the Scorpion death lock, but Arn tagged in.
  • He then gave Sting the DDT but only got 2.
  • Hot tag Luger.
  • After a back elbow, Luger gave the Horsemen a double noggin knocker.
  • Arn then came back with a SPINEBUSTER but only got 2 thanks to a save by Sting.
  • All four men were in the ring.
  • While Young was occupied with Sting and Blanchard, Arn tried to slam Luger, but Magnum tripped him with his cane. SNEAKY!
  • That only got 2.
  • When Arn grabbed Magnum, Luger rolled him up and got the pin.
  • Sting and Luger won the Cup and $1 million.

Rating: ****

Summary: The new blood wins the cup as the Horsemen can’t close the deal. Great match! Great story!

After the match, promoter Jim Crockett and his mother Elizabeth present Sting and Luger the Cup and the $1 million check to a HUGE ovation.

Conclusion:  While not tremendously historical, this show had some great matches at the end. The Greensboro faithful certainly got their money’s worth with their portion of the show. Hopefully, the WWE Network will provide this show soon.

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

Buyrate: NONE

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