Tryout: Kevin Hall

The WWE Network just added a bunch of old Jim Crockett Promotions (JCP) and WCW programs from 1987-89. These are the old WTBS programs that ran every Saturday night at 6:05. As a native North Carolinian (the heart of Crockett territory) and fan going back to 1978, I asked Scott if he would be interested in having someone review all these classic shows for the website. So, here’s my first effort. It’s a trial run. Hope you like it.

We’re going to start with November 2, 1985.

They almost always start with a short video clip, usually from one of the JCP syndicated shows.

This one opens with Jimmy Valiant dropping his patented elbow and pinning some jobber, when the Midnight Express and Jim Cornette attack. The crowd goes nuts and into the fight comes….a bulky woman? They then immediately cut to the show open. The woman, we would find out weeks later, is Miss Atlanta Lively, aka Ronnie Garvin in drag.

Tony Schiavone and David Crockett are our hosts. Coming up on today’s show we have Superstar Billy Graham vs. Abdullah the Butcher and an arm wrestling challenge involving The Barbarian. They also plug Starrcade ’85 “The Gathering”, an update on Dusty Rhodes’ medical process, plus, Magnum T.A., the Rock n Roll Express, Tully Blanchard and more.

We go to a clip of Tully Blanchard vs. Magnum TA from October 19 in Greensboro. Magnum atomic drops Tully, who then bounces into turnbuckle, rebounds off, and cracks head with Magnum. Both men are down as referee Tommy Young makes the 10 count. It’s a double countout, inside the ring. The announcers push that Magnum wants an I Quit match to finally settle this feud.

Our first match in the TBS studios is Manny Fernandez vs. Tommy Lane. Lane is a jobber here, but would have some success in the regional territories as one half of the Rock n Roll RPMs. Lane surprises the Ragin’ Bull with a couple of good arm drags. They crisscross several times and Fernandez catches Lane with a hip toss. Fernandez works the arm and throws a couple of chops, followed by the Flying Burrito for the quick pin. **

A taped interview with Ric Flair in the empty TBS studio, from October 27 is next. David Crockett expresses his disgust with Flair for injuring Dusty Rhodes (a great angle that made Flair a full-fledged heel, during which he joined forces with his “cousins” Ole and Arn Anderson. The formation of the Four Horseman is nigh.) Flair snaps at Crockett and talks about defending the NWA Title, the most prestigious belt in wrentling, all over the world. Flair says he knows Rhodes will not be able to return on November 3 in Atlanta with a broken foot. The usual great promo from Naitch, with a few of his signature lines.

Back live with Ole and Arn Anderson, the National Tag Team champs. Arn and Ole, like Flair, says it’s not medically possible for Dusty to return by November 3. Clearly, they forgot who’s booking.

Back to the ring, and it’s “Nature Boy Buddy Landel w/ manager J.J. Dillon vs. Tony Zane. Landel with the slam and kneedrop. He follows with the corkscrew elbow and figure four, and Zane quickly submits. Total squash. *

To the podium, Dillon is wearing a hideous blue tuxedo. He’s clearly not yet in the stylin’ and profilin’ Four Horseman days. Soon. Dillon and Landel are pushing a feud with National Heavyweight champ Terry Taylor.

Next up is the Rock & Roll Express vs. George South and Mike Davis. Davis is the other half of the aforementioned Rock & Rolls RPMs with with Tommy Lane. Looks like they were already a team, as they had identical blond hair, dark beards and trunks, but wrestling separately on this program. Quick tags from the R&R as they work on South’s leg. Davis attempts a double-team on Gibson, but it goes nowhere. R&R hit the double dropkick to make quick work of South. **

U.S. Champion Tully Blanchard & Baby Doll are at the podium with Schiavone. He talks about the brutal battle in Greensboro with Magnum and how it took three days of massages from Baby Doll to get healed. That sounds awful. They bring up Magnum’s request for an “I Quit Match”. Blanchard throws to a tape of an interview with NWA President Bob Geigel. He looks at the wrong camera through most of the interview. Geigel says he cannot sanction the match due to the hatred between the two men. It would be “too dangerous” because of the hatred between the two men. Back live, Blanchard is thrilled with the ruling and tells Magnum to “go back to the farm”.

To the ring, we have Billy Jack Haynes vs. Black Cat. I don’t think this is the same Black Cat that had some success in Mexico and Japan in 80s and 90s, and appeared once on Nitro. Haynes does power moves, then bores us with rest holds, and finally the full nelson finisher. DUD

We go to Tony Schiavone with Dusty Rhodes’ doctor. They’re still pushing the Dusty comeback story, after his leg was broken just two weeks earlier. Not sure why they felt the need to push the return for the November 3 Atlanta show when Starrcade is rapidly approaching. Boring pap about Dusty risking further injury by coming back so soon.

To the ring, it’s Magnum T.A. vs. Keith Erich. Magnum wins in about 15 seconds with the belly-to-belly suplex. Standard squash for Magnum, which helped get him over big.

“Superstar” Billy Graham is at the podium with Tony, when Paul Jones interrupts. Jones says Graham looks like a fortune teller. He’s right. They’re supposed to do a $5,000 Arm Wrestling Challenge with The Barbarian, then a match with Abdullah the Butcher, but Jones is changing the rules. He says Graham has to wrestle Abby first.

So, it’s the continuation of the Superstation Championship Challenge Series, which was basically Crockett’s weekly, temporary gimmick of giving fans one competitive match per week instead of all squashes. Superstar Graham vs. Abdullah the Butcher. Graham struggles to pull his shirt off outside the ring and Abby attacks. To the post, then shots to the throat. Graham is hurt. Now he’s working on the arm to weaken the arm so he can’t beat The Barbarian in the arm wrestling challenge. Superstar comes back with some of the weakest chops ever. Thankfully, his karate gimmick was gone, but he’s still using part of that horrible moveset. Outside, Graham chokes Abby with a camera cable. Punches and kicks follow. Back in, Abby catches Graham with a shot to the throat. While Abby distracts the ref, Paul Jones nails Graham in the throat with the cane. Graham comes back with a bear hug on Abby. Finally, Barbarian interferes and they go to work on Graham. Abby drops the elbow. Barbarian nails the flying headbutt off the top, twice. Finally, Pistol Pez Whatley and a couple jobbers come in for the save as Jones and the henchmen flee. Looks like we won’t get our arm wrestling challenge. Darn. *

Without the arm wrestling challenge, we have go to a standby match. it’s Pez Whatley vs. Benny Traylor. Tony congratulates newlyweds to Joe and Julie Laurinaitis of Minneapolis, MN. Unbeknownst to 99% of the viewers at the time, that would be Road Warrior Animal and his wife. As for the match long and boring, with almost all mat wrestling and rest holds. Pez finally wins with flying headbutt. DUD

Dillon and Black Bart are at the podium. Dillon is insulted that he’s running third or fourth in the PWI Manager of the Year poll. Bart is all fired up about fellow cowboy Ron Bass, who he’ll face a Starrcade in a “dadgum” bullrope match. We really need to make dadgum part of the lexicon again. Bart almost busts his head open by banging it with the cowbell. Clearly, we need more cowbell.

Jim Crockett comes out to the announce next week’s SCCS, and it’s Billy Jack Haynes vs. J.J. Dillon’s newest charge, Thunderfoot. Ugh.

Starrcade update: hey announce several of the matches for the card. We got to a video clip of Baby Doll getting in Magnum T.A.’s face. In a scene that would never fly today, Magnum forces a kiss on her, which she resists at first, then seems to like it. Baby Doll slaps Magnum, he rips part of her shirt and Tully Blanchard blindsides Magnum. They have a huge brawl on the floor which Magnum gets the better of. He even lands an errant shot on David Crockett, who was trying to break it up.

Back to the studio, Jim Crockett announces he is sanctioning an I Quit match in a cage for the U.S. Title between Magnum T.A. & Blanchard, making Geigel’s earlier announcement pointless.

After a break, Blanchard is going nuts that he’s been placed in that match. Denny Brown vs. Blanchard. Blanchard takes his aggressions out on Brown. Denny fires back. A sunset flip from the outside almost scores a huge upset for Brown. Blanchard, like Flair, often gave the jobbers some offense instead of doing the typical squashes. Slingshot duplex gets the victory for the U.S. champ. **

Ole and Arn are back at the podium. Ole’s pissed that Blanchard is being forced into the match with Magnum. Ole warns Magnum that they’re coming for him. Sounds like they’re forming some sort of alliance with Blanchard. Hmmm…

Nikita Koloff w/ Uncle Ivan & Khrusher Khrushchev vs. Max Jeffers. Nikita looks especially jacked this week. Pure power moves and some posing from the “Russian Nightmare”. Nikita lands the Russian Hammer, a chokehold, followed by the Russian Sickle (clothesline) and it’s over. *

Afterwards, the Russians hype the Starrcade cage match vs. the Rock & Roll Express.

After a break, it’s Ivan Koloff and Khrusher Khrushchev vs. Ricky Reeves & Jerry Garmon.

The crowd chants “USA” as the Russians hold the tag titles over their heads. Garmon botches an exchange off the ropes and Khrusher punishes him with some clubbing forearms. Reeves never gets in the match as Ivan whips Garmon into the sickle from Khrushchev for the win. DUD

Next up, Jimmy Valiant vs. Jimmy Backlund. The graphic calls Backlund “Jimmy Black”. Tony refers to Valiant’s “lady” that we saw at the top of the show, and there’s the as-yet-unnamed Miss Atlanta Lively in the ring. “She” plants a big kiss on Valiant and he sells it like it’s the greatest thing that’s ever happened to him. What in the blue hell did I just see? Miss Lively knocks out Backlund with a punch and Valiant pins him. -*** Valiant then goes searching for the mysteriously woman.

After a break, Tony interviews a furious Jim Cornette. “I have seen more saliva change hands on this show than I have ever seen in my life,” Cornette says. He says the woman is one of Valiant’s six or eight women, and this is the ugliest one who ran off a few years ago and she’s back for child support. Valiant interrupts and runs Cornette off. He’s still looking for the mysterious woman. Valiant talks about what a great kisser she is and that he’s in love. They replay the kiss. Good grief. And Valiant plants a kiss on Tony Schiavone to close the show.

Wow.

Well, that show was…different. They did a nice job building to Starrcade ’85 and we see the early signs of The Four Horsemen uniting. Very little good wrestling, but some storyline progression, some of which was good.

Hope you enjoyed the review. If so, there may be more.

Kevin