NWA World Championship Wrestling, January 4, 1986

Welcome to the start of an incredible year of wrestling action for Jim Crockett Promotions. 1985 was very good. 1986, for the most, part, was even better. This is the high point of the Crockett territory, with a roster full of hall of famers and should-be hall of famers. It’s also the year the Four Horsemen take over for the first time. As a wrestling fan of almost 40 years, I would match JCP’s 1986 up against any era from any territory. It’s one of the best ever in terms of angles and in-ring action. The first 10 months of it, at least.

This show is a big one… 

We open with a quick clip of Dusty Rhodes locking Ole Anderson in the figure-four as the Road Warriors and Magnum T.A. keep the other Horsemen out of the ring. To the standard show open we go…

Tony Schiavone and David Crockett are our announcers this week. David lets us know there’s a new National Heavyweight Champion, and it’s Dusty Rhodes. There’s also a situation that has arisen involving Dusty, J.J. Dillon, Tully Blanchard and Baby Doll. Also, Ole Anderson has a serious leg injury!

Tully Blanchard and J.J. Dillon come to the podium. Tully announces that he’s hired J.J. as the associate director of Tully Blanchard Enterprises. Tully mentions Ole’s injury, and for the first time, acknowledges the Four Horsemen! He credits Arn Anderson for coming up with the name, and holds up his four fingers, making the sign that becomes the symbol of excellence in the NWA. Tully promises that Ole will be back.

Tully mentions the National Heavyweight Title, “that J.J. once proudly had in his his trophy case. He put his faith in somebody a little inferior. Got beat, got took down, short-lived. But I tell you what, J.J.’s on the first-run team now.”

David Crockett asks Tully, “Where’s Baby Doll?” J.J. Dillon tells him not to mention her name again. Whoa. Some major news on several levels in the first three minutes of the show.

As for the National Title, Buddy Landel, managed by J.J. Dillon, won the belt from Terry Taylor at Starrcade. The story goes, he was set for a major push in a feud with Ric Flair over the NWA Title, and might have even won it. But by Landel’s own admission, he partied too hard on cocaine and valium one night, overslept the TV taping the next morning that would have set up the feud, and was fired on the spot. Dusty Rhodes gave himself the National Title with a phantom switch at a non-existent house show in Albuquerque, New Mexico, a city JCP had never run.

To the ring, it’s the NWA Tag Champions Rock & Roll Express vs. Jim Jeffers and Thunderfoot. J.J. Dillon managed Thunderfoot just a few weeks ago. Now he’s back fending for himself in Jobberville.  The heel jobbers make it competitive for awhile as Ricky Morton plays Ricky Morton, but Jeffers misses a charge in the corner, Ricky tags Robert, and they put him away with the double dropkick. **

Back at ringside, it’s Tully Blanchard and J.J. Dillon again. After saying they didn’t want to talk about Baby Doll, Tully’s “Perfect 10”, they’re talking a lot about her. Tully says he took her from nothing and gave her everything, and she turned her back on him…

We go to tape from WorldWide Wrestling, one of JCP’s syndicated shows, from December 28. Tully asks Baby Doll, “Where in the world have you been?” Now, last week, Dillon said she was in Acapulco on a trip he arranged. That’s what Baby Doll says, as well, adding that it was a Christmas present from Tully. Dillon comes out. Blanchard says he didn’t tell Dillon to do any such thing. J.J. says he doesn’t know what she’s talking about…

Tully starts yelling at Baby Doll, she yells back, and he slaps her, knocking her down!?!! Interviewer David Crockett goes nuts and goes after Tully. Dillon grabs Crockett and pushes him away. Blanchard grabs Baby Doll by the hair, looking like he’s going to hit her again. Dusty Rhodes comes out and slugs Blanchard, as Baby Doll cowers behind him. The fans are going nuts.

“Don’t you ever put your hands on her again. She don’t belong to you. She belongs to me now,” Dusty yells.

Back live, Tully is raging mad, saying he’s gonna make Dusty pay, he’ll take his National Title, and he’s going to take Baby Doll back and teach her a lesson.

To the ring, it’s Harley Race vs. Tony Zane. This is a very brief stint in JCP for Race. He methodically takes apart Zane and finishes him with a diving headbutt off the second rope.*

Ivan Koloff is at the podium with the World Six-Man Championship trophy. Ivan says their battles with the Road Warriors will wind up putting someone in the hospital. They’re also going to take the World Tag Titles back from the Rock & Roll Express, and Nephew Nikita will win the U.S. Title from Magnum. He’s no Nostradamus, but two out of three ain’t bad.

To the ring, it’s Cowboy Ron Bass vs. Bill Tabb. Bass wins with the claw after a boring three minutes or so. 1/2*

Dusty Rhodes and Baby Doll are at the podium. Dusty brags about breaking Ole Anderson’s leg and says his “brother” Arn Anderson is headed for the same place. I thought he was Ole’s nephew. Maybe that’s next week. Dusty says the reason he doesn’t have a chiseled body with lots of muscles is he likes the nightlife just a little bit better than the gym. He doesn’t mention those all-you-can-eat buffets…

Dusty says he makes more money per night than any athlete in the country, then claims he makes a half-million dollars a year. Dusty says women are sacred and you should not lay your hands on them the way Tully slapped Baby Doll.

We go to footage of the Road Warriors & Dusty vs. the Horsemen. Dusty kicks Ole Anderson’s leg out from under him. The Warriors hold Anderson down while Dusty comes off the top rope down on Ole’s leg, the same way the Horsemen broke Dusty’s leg four months ago. Dusty comes off the top again on Ole’s leg, then locks in the figure-four.

Back live, Baby Doll says it’s too bad Tully Blanchard couldn’t handle a real woman and he will pay for slapping her.

To the ring, it’s Ron Garvin vs. Mac Jeffers. Jeffers does a double-leg takedown on Garvin, uses the ropes for leverage on a pin attempt and almost gets it. Jeffers then pounds on Garvin and forces him out of the ring. That pisses Garvin off. He lights up Jeffers’ chest with a massive open-hand chop, suplexes him, slaps him and kicks him in the gut. This is just brutal. Garvin punishes Jeffers for a few more minutes and puts him away with the knockout punch. I appreciate Garvin so much more now than I did in the 1980s. Fun to watch. **

We get a video hyping the “Pro Wrestling Illustrated Scouting Report with Bill Apter”, a new weekly feature. They show several classic PWI covers.

Harley Race joins Tony at the podium. Harley says he held THE World’s Title, “not that plastic garbage”, more times than anyone. Harley says he’s heard Magnum T.A. is the next in line, but they’ll find out in a few short hours. (Harley beats Magnum in Greensboro that night. Why, I have no idea. It leads to nothing.)

To the ring, it’s the Road Warriors vs. Josh Stroud, Gene Ligon and Mark Hawk. A handicap match. It’s quick decimation as the Warriors win with clotheslines in about 30 seconds. *

The L.O.D. joins Tony at the podium. Hawk asks Ole, “How’s your leg?” He adds that if the Russians want to know if there’s life after death, get in the ring with the Road Warriors and they’ll find out. Animal says they just proved they can beat three men, and they’re after the World Six-Man Titles. They say they can take the titles themselves, but the NWA won’t let them without a partner. Gee, I wonder who will put himself in a pairing with this massively over team…

To the ring, it’s the Ragin’ Bull vs. Larry Clark, according to the graphic. I guess he’s no longer Manny Fernandez. Maybe he’s Jake LaMotta. Tony & David refer to him as the Ragin’ Bull as well. If the Bull tells Clark, “You never got me down, Ray,” that’d be awesome. The Bull works Clark’s leg,  mixes in some chops and finishes him with the Flying Burrito.  1/2*

Ric Flair comes out and the champ is pissed about Dusty breaking his “cousin” Ole’s leg. The crowd chants “Dusty”. Flair says he can’t believe he has to put up with these idiots. I agree. Flair:

Dusty Rhodes, I spent more money on spilt booze with Leona Helmsley last Sunday night sitting in my lap than you made in the last six months. That’s right. You know why? Because I am legitimately a big deal.

Flair mentions his good friend Tully Blanchard and says he warned him about Baby Doll a year ago. Flair says he never liked Baby Doll to begin with.

“I’ve seen better on the backside, on the worst days of my life. And Tully Blanchard, I’m gonna put my arm around you, brother, I’m gonna walk you through society. Baby Doll, you remember the night in Philadelphia that you almost got to ride Space Mountain? You remember that? But out of respect for Tully Blanchard, I sent you to your room.

Flair claims Baby Doll kept knocking on his door and begging for it. He says Bigfoot himself couldn’t follow Ric Flair. WHOOO!

To the ring, Arn Anderson vs. Kent Glover. Arn punishes Glover’s arm, calls out Dusty Rhodes and finishes Glover with the gourdbuster. *

Ric Flair and Arn Anderson come to the podium. They go to the video of right after Dusty and the Road Warriors broke Ole’s leg. Ole is in serious pain and Arn and Flair tend to him. As they show Ole getting loaded onto a stretcher, Flair promises that Dusty Rhodes will be back in the hospital within 90 days. Arn says Dusty used a steel-toed boot and if any of the Horsemen had done that, they’d be fined or suspended…

Baby Doll comes out. She tells Arn Anderson he’s next! Then she emits smoke, spears both men, and puts on Goldust’s wig. No wait. Sorry. She walks off as Flair and Arn go nuts.

To the ring, it’s Jimmy Valiant vs. Some Jobber. We don’t get an opening graphic. Tully Blanchard & J.J. Dillon are at ringside. They mention Dusty’s close relationship with Valiant and how they’re going to take him out because of it. Valiant wins with the elbowdrop and walks off, despite Blanchard and Dillon still standing there. As with every other Valiant match in JCP, this is a DUD.

After a break, it’s Jim Cornette, with a wrestling magazine, bragging that he’s the PWI Manager of the Year. Well deserved. We go to video from December 28 of the Rock & Roll Express beating some jobbers. Cornette distracts them to set up a sneak attack by the Midnight Express. They toss Robert Gibson out, then stretch Ricky Morton out for some whacks with the tennis racket from Cornette. This heats up arguably the greatest tag-team feud in history.

Cornette introduces Loverboy Dennis (Condrey) for his match vs. Rocky King. Dennis toys with King, Cornette taunts him and his man wins with the brainbuster. *

After a break, Dusty Rhodes & Baby Doll come back out. Dusty makes fun of Flair’s reaction to Baby Doll’s challenge. She’s all smiles as Dusty talks trash on the Horsemen. Dusty says it was Baby Doll who turned Flair down in Philadelphia, not the other way around. “Why should I mess with Space Mountain when I have the whole park,” she says. I just threw up in my mouth.

To the ring, it’s U.S. Champ Magnum T.A. vs. the Barbarian w/ Paul Jones. Harley Race joins David & Tony at the podium, to scout Magnum. Race was the first U.S. champ, back in 1975. He’s got a matchup with Magnum tonight in Greensboro. Magnum works the Barbarian’s arm early on and repeatedly outthinks the big man. Paul Jones claims a moral victory because the Barbarian survived more than 30 seconds, unlike most of Magnum’s opponents. Wow. Jones is a terrible mouthpiece. We go to a break…

Back live, Barbarian has the advantage. He hotshots Magnum on the top rope. Magnum rallies. The ref gets bumped out of the ring. Magnum hits Barbarian with the belly-to-belly suplex and has him down, but there’s no ref. Jones nails Magnum in the throat with his cane. Barbarian drops the headbutt on Magnum. Race runs in and counts the pin, which is obviously unofficial. Afterwards, they do double diving headbutts off the ropes on Magnum. Finally, the faces come in to save the day. A lot of effort put in to hype one freaking house show match and having Barbarian go over your number two face. *

The Road Warriors come back out to hype their feud with the Russians a little more.

After a break, it’s Jimmy Valiant talking gibberish.

To the ring, Sam Houston & Nelson Royal vs. Pablo Crenshaw & Don Turner. Houston looks like he’s 18. Royal looks like he’s 81. They win quickly with a Houston bulldog that Royal barely gets out of the way for. DUD

Magnum T.A. joins Tony and he’s not in a good mood. Magnum welcomes Harley Race’s challenge anytime and says Race is not half the man he once was. Good, fiery promo to end the show.

Wow. I know, recap is way long, but there was a lot to get to. Not a lot of good wrestling on this show, but some major angles played out and we saw the first real signs of the Four Horsemen coming together as a true faction. Baby Doll, as the only female in the territory, was a significant star in JCP and her babyface turn and partnering with Dusty is a big deal. A lot to look forward to in 1986.