NWA World Championship Wrestling, November 23, 1985

We are five days away from Starrcade ’85 “The Gathering”. Presumably, this show will presumably push the event heavily … We open with a video clip of how we ended last week: Dusty Rhodes and Magnum T.A. challenging the Four Horsemen to step into the ring. The Horsemen’s 4-2 advantage quickly disappears when the Road Warriors provide some backup for Magnum & Dusty. The Horsemen backdown and we go to the show open…

We open with Tony Schiavone & David Crockett as our hosts. The Superstation Championship Challenge Series (SCCS) match for this week is the Ragin’ Bull Manny Fernandez vs. “Nature Boy” Buddy Landell. The real “Nature Boy” (my words, not theirs), Ric Flair is also here.

To the ring rather quickly, our first match is National Heavyweight Champion Terry Taylor vs. the Black Cat. Lots of mat wrestling in this one to start, with Taylor in control. Black Cat tries a different approach and lands some forearms and a headbutt in the corner. Taylor doesn’t appreciate that. Fires back and actually stands on Cat’s face with both feet. Taylor wins with the superplex. *1/2

After a break, David & Tony are talking in a somber tone about Ric Flair’s dastardly deeds of late. See, for most of Flair’s first and second reigns as NWA champ, he played a good guy or tweener in the Mid-Atlantic area and a heel everywhere else. Flair finally turned full-fledged heel when he joined the Andersons in breaking Dusty Rhodes’ leg in September. David and Tony are very disappointed in Ric.

They show a clip from last week when Flair cheated to help himself and the Andersons defeated Pez Whatley, Ron Garvin and Terry Taylor. David is disgusted that the world champ is stooping to such levels. Now they flashback to September when Dusty Rhodes came to the ring to help Flair, who was getting beat down by the Russians, and Flair turned on him, joining the Andersons in breaking Rhodes’ ankle. Tony and David are trying to psychoanalyze Flair and figure out why.

They show a clip of Flair being interviewed by Bill Apter, with a video feed of Dusty railing on Flair. Flair loses his cool and starts yelling at the video wall. Tony and David think Flair is losing control. More video: Dusty vs. Mike Davis in his supposedly miraculous return from the broken ankle. Dusty wins with the figure-four and all his buddies come in to congratulate him on this huge victory over a jobber.

After a break, it’s a Dusty Rhodes interview from one of the syndicated shows. Dusty says he’s going to win this NWA title for the third time “for the people”. He calls Flair and the Andersons yellow. Dusty says if you thought he was quick and fast before, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Who in the blue hell ever thought Dusty was quick and fast? Dusty says it’s risky business for Ric Flair and “the demon inside Dusty Rhodes is alive and well”. Thankfully, he never called himself the Demon King. I can’t imagine a painted up Dusty crawling his way to the ring like Balor. Nor do I want to.

To the ring, it’s a Mario Puzo scripted war between the Two Dons: Don Kernodle vs. Don Turner. Ok, maybe not. Kernodle nails a powerslam and clothesline off the top, which he calls the American Cannon, and that’s it. Quick squash. DUD

Back to the ring, The Barbarian w/Paul Jones vs. Stoney Burke. Burke jumps The Barbarian, trying to gain the early advantage. Barbarian fires back with the Boot of Doom and for the second week in a row, a dropkick. He throws Burke outside and Paul Jones rakes his eyes. The ref clearly sees it but doesn’t call for the DQ. Barbarian slams Burke on the concrete floor. Back in, The Barbarian repeatedly rams a prone Burke with headbutts, driving him out again. David Crockett claims they got a letter from Bill Watts, asking if they’ll be able to see Starrcade in New Orleans. David says yes, it will be available on closed circuit. Barbarian nails the headbutt off the top for the win. 1/2*

To the podium, it’s NWA World Heavyweight Champion Ric Flair. Schiavone questions Flair on his recent dirty tactics. Flair asks how dare he and David Crockett comment on his actions. “I am the greatest of all-time,” Flair says. “I’m your master, Dusty Rhodes. I don’t have to follow anybody’s set of rules because when you’re the world champion, when you’re number one, whooo, you make your own rules!” Flair says Dusty, Magnum, the Road Warriors and all their buddies will never take the title from him, until he’s ready to lie down. Two whoos. Another awesome promo from Naitch.

Starrcade ’85 match rundown time, hyping all the matches. To the ring, it’s Superstar Billy Graham vs. Tony Zane. Graham shakes hands with all the fans, gets in the ring and shows off the 22-inch pythons. Schiavone says his Graham’s biceps are “a trademark”. Might want to let someone in Stamford know that. Graham easily wins a test of strength, hits some forearms and wins with the bearhug. -*

After a break, it’s the SCCS, Manny Fernandez vs. Buddy Landel w/J.J. Dillon. Landel congratulates JCP “for almost getting somebody worthy enough of getting in the ring with”. Bad move, as he walks into a back elbow from Fernandez that sends Landel out of the ring. The crowd loves it. Landel is doing a lot of jawing, asking the Bull “is this karate or wrestling”. He’s doing some Zbyszko-esque stalling, as well. Fernandez continually gets the better of exchanges in the ring, and Landel keeps ducking outside to get advice from J.J. Finally, Landel gets the advantage with a bodyslam and armdrag, followed by Hold #978, armbar. It doesn’t last, as Fernandez gets the better of a criss-cross and takes Landel down with a drop toehold. Fernandez continues to work the leg as we go to break …

We’re back, and Fernandez still has the advantage when J.J. Dillon reaches in and rakes Fernandez’ eyes. That’s the opening Landel needs. He tosses Fernandez outside, allowing Dillon to score a cheap boot. Fernandez is busted open. Tony and David don’t acknowledge the crimson mask. Dillon lands another cheap shot as Landel distracts the ref. Fernandez regains control with a clothesline, then flying back elbow, but misses the kneedrop off the second rope, allowing Landel to lock in the figure-four. Fernandez reverses. Dillon helps Landel get to the ropes…and the bell rings. It looks like we’ve got a 20-minute time limit draw. Fernandez hits the Flying Burrito after the bell. Decent enough match. **

To the podium, it’s Landel’s Starrcade opponent, National Heavyweight Champ Terry Taylor. He compliments Landel for his showing vs. Fernandez. Taylor says he’s going to hang onto to the belt, thanks to his “super suplex”. Yep, he fumbled the name of his own finishing move.

After a break, Jim Crockett fills us in on next week’s big SCCS match: Thunderfoot & Black Bart w/ J.J. Dillon vs. Paul Ellering’s Road Warriors.

Ric Flair is here again. Flair says he is the main event and apologizes to Dusty Rhodes, because he is going to be the man for a long time. WHOO! Quick promo from Flair.

To the ring, Black Bart w/J.J. Dillon vs. Rocky King. King gains the early advantage with crossbody blocks and dropkicks, but Bart overpowers him and drops him with a hotshot. A big clothesline has King in serious trouble. Bart tosses King outside, allowing J.J. to kick him in the midsection. Finally, Bart puts him away with the Texas Trash Compactor (a legdrop off the second rope). DUD

After a break, Cowboy Ron Bass, with his bullrope, is at the podium with Tony. Bass is angry that Black Bart stabbed him in the back, but vows that he will get even at Starrcade. Bass is the supposed face here, but he’s really better as a heel.

After a break, the Road Warriors are at the podium.  I think WWE Network screwed us out of a match, because they look sweaty, a little out of breath and Hawk’s facepaint is peeling. Hawk says to Ric Flair and the Andersons: “When we get through with the three of you, it’s gonna look like someone set your face on fire and put it out with an ax.” Nice visual. Animal tells Nikita Koloff to watch his mouth and don’t ever use his name on TV again. BTW, the Road Warriors are not scheduled for Starrcade, for some stupid reason.

To the ring, Billy Jack Haynes vs. Jim Jeffers. Haynes tosses Jeffers across the ring out of a headlock. There’s actually action from Haynes this week, as opposed to the prolonged bearhug he started his match with last week. The full nelson finishes Jeffers pretty quickly and the crowd likes it. *

Haynes is at the podium with Tony. Haynes gives a shoutout to everybody to Oregon and Florida, then asks the crowd, “NWA is number one, am I right or wrong?” The studio crowd agrees. Haynes says he’s going to break the Andersons’ necks with his full nelson at Starrcade as revenge for them breaking Dusty Rhodes’ ankle.

Tony introduces video of the Russians, mainly with Nikita Koloff destroying jobbers with the Sickle.

Back live, it’s Ron Bass, Pez Whatley and the Italian Stallion vs. Carl Styles, Kent Glover and Larry Clark. Whatley controls early for the faces. He tags in Stallion for a dropkick and press slam. Ron Bass tags in and pounds the jobbers. Quick tags as they work on the arm of one of the opponents. I have no idea which and Tony and David aren’t helping. Whatley lands the flying headbutt for the win. *

After a break, it’s NWA Jr. Heavyweight Champ Denny Brown at the podium, and boy is that a mistake. He’s rambling about how exciting Starrcade will be. It’s painful, but thankfully, short.

To the ring, Sam Houston vs. the Golden Terror. Here comes Ric Flair to the podium to offer commentary. Flair talks about Rhodes being Houston’s mentor. Methinks this doesn’t bode well for Houston. Flair says Arn Anderson calls the scrawny Houston “a human broomstick”. Houston hits the bulldog, but the Terror gets a leg on the ropes to break up the pin. They clash heads hard. Then Flair attacks Houston. A suplex on the floor! David Crockett goes to check on Houston. “Count ’em out! He’s not man enough to be in the ring,” Flair yells. Houston is out. Flair says what just happened to Sam Houston is very likely to happen to Dusty Rhodes at Starrcade ’85.

And that’s how we end. The suplex on the floor was something you very rarely saw in the mid-80s and they put it over big. Decent show to hype up Starrcade ’85 “The Gathering”, which I’ll review in a few days here on the Blog of Doom. Thanks for reading.