The SmarK Rant for WWE Network Hidden Gems – AWA/NWA Nite of Champions II 12.29.85

The SmarK Rant for NWA/AWA Nite of Champions II – 12.29.85

I actually keep finding random stuff on the Hidden Gems section of the Network that I’ve never watched before and I just go “WTF? Where did this come from?” This is another one of those things.

Taped from the Meadowlands in New Jersey, apparently drawing 12,000 people.

The Road Warriors do a local promo for the show to start about facing the Russians tonight, and according to Paul Ellering, the results won’t be pretty for the Russians.  Hawk doing the promo in jeans and makeup is quite the look.

Tully Blanchard is also here to hype up his rematch with Magnum TA.  Damn, this sounds like a hell of a show.  Anyway, Tully isn’t just coming for the US title, he’s coming for Magnum’s EYE.  Every time he thinks of Magnum, he gets heartburn, cold sweats and dizziness.  Maybe he should lay off the coke.

The Rock N Roll Express are here to talk about facing the Long Riders, and Robert isn’t sure of their names.  Ricky, however, is confident about their chances of getting hot and nasty against them and then scoring with the ladies afterwards.  Robert confidently points to the camera to reinforce the point.  Good job, Robert!

No commentary here as usual, but it appears to be the full show.  For those playing along at home, the announced match times on this show bear no relation to reality and seem like the ring announcer was just making up numbers as he went along.  At one point I think he said there was an irrational number left in the match.

Ron Bass v. JJ Dillon

So this show has an odd look to the footage, with a soft focus that looks more like film than video for whatever reason.  Bass works the arm to start, but JJ gets a cheapshot and hides in the corner as the crowd is already getting antsy with the match.  So then JJ rakes the back and chokes him out in the corner to take over and that’s about as exciting as it sounds.  Finally Bass just punches him down a bunch of times and finishes him with the IRON CLAW at 5:25.  An absolutely horrendous opener.  -**

WORLD MIDGET CHAMPIONSHIP:  Little Tokyo v. Cowboy Lang

They have a real belt and everything.  It’s probably just someone’s watch, but good effort.  Tokyo hides behind the ref and works a headlock, but Lang dropkicks him and gets a sunset flip for two.  Lang works a wristlock and stomps the fingers, so Tokyo goes over and demonstrates on the ref to show his displeasure.  Tokyo chokes him out in the corner and the poor ref gets assaulted again as there’s some real disrespect of the officials evident in these midget matches.  Anyway, Lang misses a charge and gets pinned at 6:48.

AWA Women’s title:  Sherri Martel v. Debbie Combs

Usually not a great idea to run three “special attraction” type of matches in a row like that, especially to start the show.  Also this is basically the entire AWA Women’s division at that point.  Sherri works a headlock and grinds on a facelock, but Combs takes her down and works the leg.  Sherri reverses to her own leglock and tosses Combs, and that randomly gets a big reaction from the crowd.  So she chokes Combs out with a power cord and they brawl on the floor to wake up the crowd, with Combs slamming her on the floor.  Back in, Combs hauls her in for a slam that gets two and dodges a blind charge, but then Sherri tosses her again to buy time.  Back in, Sherri chokes away on the ropes and a small package gets two.  More choking on the ropes and then some choking in the middle of the ring for a change of pace, but Combs comes back with a catapult for two.  Sherri takes her down and works an armbar as we’re deep into early 70s women’s wrestling stuff now and the crowd completely turns on the match.  Sherri was never exactly a good worker to begin with at this point in her career and she looks completely lost out there.  So Combs tosses her again as this drags on, and then back in for the airplane spin, but Sherri rolls her up for the pin to retain at 10:28.  DUD

WWC Universal title:  Carlos Colon v. The Barbarian

This feels like a trainwreck about to leave the station.  Colon also doesn’t have his belt with him, so chances of a title change are slim.  Also, on a related note, has anyone else SEEN Carlito in his guest spots on GLOW?  Dude is crazy jacked now. How has Vince not been ringing his phone off the hook?  And yet Primo and Epico are apparently still under payroll.  Colon slugs away to start and NO ONE CARES.  I feel like there was some kind of major miscalculation of demographics here in wasting money on Carlos for this shot.  Barbarian uses the CLUBBING FOREARMS to put Colon down and follows with a press slam and shoulderblock for two.  Legdrop gets two.  And then we go to the bearhug to set up the flying headbutt, which misses.  Colon makes the comeback and NO ONE CARES.  In fact, some people boo it.  Colon with a butt splash, but Barbarian rakes the eyes and tosses him to cut off the comeback, and Paul Jones puts the boots to him, which draws a huge babyface reaction.  I bet this is not going the way they anticipated when they booked the match.  Barbarian slams him back in, but Colon reverses into the cradle for the pin at 6:41 to retain his title, and the crowd boos it out of the building.  What a show this is so far!  ¼* for Barbarian moving pretty quickly by his standards.  And then Jones does the deal where he pretends that everyone is cheering the heel, but in this case everyone is cheering the heel.  So there’s that.

Buddy Jack Roberts v. Paul Ellering

ANOTHER “wrestler v. manager” match?  Ellering has a neck brace for some reason, but still attacks Roberts and hits him with a kneelift.  He chokes Buddy in the ropes and boots him into a funny clown bump while he’s tied up, but Buddy comes back with a kneecrusher and goes to work on it.  But Ellering reverses and wraps Buddy’s knee around the post, then tries a monkey flip and gets cut off.  Buddy goes to work on the bad neck, and then the Road Warriors run in for the DQ at 4:46 and destroy Roberts, which FINALLY gives the crowd something to cheer for.  DUD  You’d assume this means the Warriors are facing the Freebirds later, but NOPE.

NWA World tag titles:  The Rock N Roll Express v. The Long Riders (Bill & Scott Irwin)

The RNR are fresh off winning the tag team titles at Starrcade.  Robert grabs a headlock on Scott and does the deal where he takes Bill down with a headscissors at the same time, and the Irwins back off and regroup.  Over to Ricky, who works on the arm, but Scott takes him down with an elbow and brings in Bill.  And then Ricky immediately takes him down and works HIS arm before taking him back to the corner for some double-teaming.  Robert grabs a headlock and controls with that, then reverses a slam attempt for two.  Back to the babyface corner for more double-teaming and Ricky gets a dropkick for two.  They double-team the arm, but Wild Bill gets a lariat out of the corner and Scott comes in to choke Robert out on the ropes.  The Hog gets a high knee and drops Robert on the top rope and Bill adds some choking.  Wild Bill with a flying splash for two and he beats Robert down on the ropes and Scott goes to a bearhug.  Ricky comes in to save and Scott beats on him to chase him back to the corner, and Bill gets a knee on Robert and then takes the ref while Scott switches in and dishes out more abuse.  Scott tries a splash and hits knee, and it’s hot tag Ricky, who slugs away on Bill and follows with a backdrop.   Crossbody gets two.  It’s BREAKING LOOSE IN TULSA and everyone brawls as the Irwins put Robert down with a double elbow, but Ricky gets a sunset flip on Bill in the chaos to finish at 11:08.  Good, simple tag team action here.  ***  Babyfaces get the shine, heels get the heat, babyfaces make the comeback and get the win.

RUSSIAN DEATH MATCH:  Sgt. Slaughter v. Chris Markoff & Boris Zhukov

I feel like this really highlights the disparity in quality between the AWA and NWA Russians.  Like, Markoff has HAIR.  It’s scientific fact that Russians in the 80s were all bald!  And yes, it’s another “wrestler v. manager” special attraction match, the THIRD one tonight.  I guess technically Markoff had been a wrestler since the 60s, which is about normal for the AWA’s talent roster at that point, but he was mostly a manager by 1985 and winding down his career.  The Russians, if that is their real name, double-team Sarge in the corner, but he whips Zhukov into the post to escape that predicament and follows with the Slaughter cannon before choking Markoff out with what appears to be a belt.  And then Slaughter gets busted open for no adequately explored reason and Markoff chokes him out with that same belt.  And chokes.  And chokes.  Meanwhile, Zhukov stands on the apron waiting for a tag because it might be a Russian Death Match, but rules are rules.  Slaughter finally bumps to the floor awkwardly to escape being strangulated by a fake communist, but then manages to get himself hung up with the belt in the corner again and beat up by the slightly more authentic looking communist.  Isn’t that always the way?  Finally millions in GI Joe royalties says that Slaughter has had enough selling for these two and uses the belt to make the comeback, then punches out Markoff for two.  The Russians double-team him again as this reaches a fever pitch of excitement, and Slaughter even takes a BACKDROP!  But then he clotheslines and pins Markoff anyway at 12:52 to avenge that bump and teach the Russians that it is NOT OK to be Russian in THIS country, Jack!  -**  I mean, they made him take a BACKDROP!  Didn’t they watch GI Joe: The Movie?

US title:  Magnum TA v. Tully Blanchard

Tully has words for the ref and then immediately gets slammed by Magnum and retreats to the floor for some consolation from Baby Doll.  Man, he lost the US title to Magnum and then Baby Doll left him for Dusty Rhodes?  No wonder he turned to the drugs.  The man’s life is a country song!  Back in, Magnum slugs him down for two, but Tully gets a cheapshot and beats him down on the ropes. TA takes a break on the floor, but pulls Tully out and they slug it out down there, which goes pretty badly for Blanchard all things considered.  Back in, TA slugs him down and goes up with a double axehandle, then fires away on the mat as Tully is magically busted open when they separate.  TA with a suplex for two, but Tully throws him out of the ring and they continue punching each other in the face, which again goes badly for Tully.  Maybe he should stop doing that.  Just a thought.  Back in, Magnum tries a superplex, but Tully blocks it.  They slug it out in the corner again and TA kicks his ass AGAIN, so Tully finally kicks him in the nuts with the ref distracted and hits him in the kidneys.  That’s some good heeling.  Tully continues beating him down, but Magnum has had enough and hits the belly to belly for the pin to retain at 11:15.   Magnum and Tully punching each other in the face for 10 minutes somehow is 100 times better than anything else on this show thus far.  This was good. I’ll take it.   ***1/2

NWA World title:  Ric Flair v. Dusty Rhodes

Dusty is announced as “275 pounds of sweet soul”.  OK, but what about the other 30 pounds?  This is of course another notable rematch from Starrcade 85.  Dusty evades Flair and hits an elbow to start, so Flair takes a breather outside to think it over.  Back in, Dusty dances around him and hits another elbow to send Ric running again.  Back in, Dusty works the arm this time and beats on Flair with chops in the corner, but Ric takes out the knee and goes to work on it.  Figure-four follows, but Dusty breaks free and also goes to work on the knee.  Well now he’s just copying.  Flair catches him with a sleeper, but Dusty runs him into the turnbuckles to break and then puts him down with a headbutt.  Dusty tries his own figure-four and Flair rakes the eyes to break, but Dusty gets a lariat for two and kicks Flair in the nose with his bionic boot.  That seems a little unfair.  Dusty slugs away in the corner and we get a Flair flip to the floor, and then back in for some elbows from Dusty as Flair is busted open.  Finally Flair takes him down in the corner for two, but the ref sees him using the ropes and breaks it up.  Flair goes up and Dusty slams him off and gets his own figure-four.  Flair makes the ropes and they fight on the floor, with Flair mostly running away, and the ref gets bumped SURPRISE SURPRISE.  Dusty with a rollup and no official to make it official, but then Flair charges and Dusty backdrops him over the top rope with a second ref standing right there watching.  Dusty suplexes him back in the ring and pins him to win the NWA WORLD TITLE AT 14:55, WHAT, THIS IS A TOTAL SHOCK AND SURELY WILL STAND!  OH NO BUT WAIT THE FIRST REFEREE SAW THE BACKDROP AND REVERSES IT WHAT A BIGGER SHOCK.  I feel like this sort of thing might prove to be a problem for the NWA in the future, but what’s the worst that could happen?  THE PROMOTION GOES OUT OF BUSINESS? HA HA LOL2000 AS IF.  **

Australian Style Tag Team Match:  The Road Warriors v. Ivan Koloff & Krusher Kruschev

The fuck is an Australian style tag team match?  Falls are decided by playing knifey-spooney and the loser gets a booting?  Hawk gets a press slam on Uncle Ivan to start and chases him back to the corner, and it’s over to Comrade Smash.  Man, Minnesota really produces a disproportionate amount of Russians, doesn’t it?  Maybe it’s the Siberian-like weather.  Krusher beats on Hawk on the ropes, but walks into a big boot and gets slammed for his troubles.  The Warriors put the boots to Krusher in the corner and Animal slams everyone as the Russians regroup to think it over and decide where their lives went wrong.  The ship is quickly righted as they double-team Hawk in the corner, but he no-sells Ivan’s offense and dodges a legdrop.  Hawk with a backbreaker for two, but Animal comes in and we know he’s the designated seller for the team, and thus the commies double-team him to take over.  It’s always sad to me that the Russians and Road Warriors could never sort out their differences, when they had so many common interests, like shaving their heads and doing steroids.  A little communication could have avoided a lot of unpleasantness.  Animal and Krusher clothesline each other and it’s hot tag Hawk, and he’s full of piss and vinegar, and probably some kind of monkey hormones that he bought from a guy in the dressing room, and he cleans house.  Ivan is now busted open and Hawk bites the cut, secure in the knowledge that another man’s blood is not the weirdest shit he’s put into his body that day, but Nikita runs in and hits Animal with the chain and then tries to pass himself off as Ivan by pinning him.  Even the ref, who I remind you is a professional wrestling referee and thus probably has eyesight on par with a mole, is able to call bullshit on that one and calls for the DQ at 11:20.  This was every Warriors-Russians match you’ve ever seen in your life.  *1/2

AWA World title:  Rick Martel v. Stan Hansen

These two always have good matches so at least the main event should be good.  Hansen jumps him to start and immediately starts laying in the leather, but Martel dropkicks him and follows with a bodypress for two.  Hansen takes a breather and charges back in, but Martel catches him with an armdrag and goes to work on the arm.  Stan throws chops to escape from that, but charges and runs into a knee in the corner.  Martel goes back to the arm, but Hansen pounds on his back and Rick does a neat little sell where he holds the armbar but keeps trying to get feeling in his back again.  Hansen runs him into the corner to escape and just pounds on the back again, then tosses him and puts the boots to him on the floor.  Back in, Martel tries to the go back to the arm, but Hansen keeps pounding on the back to escape.  The crowd kind of turns on the match because the AWA wasn’t exactly drawing the house, but I think this is going somewhere.  Martel fights out of the corner and takes him down with another armbar and the crowd is really not even giving this a chance, heckling them.  Do you WANT more Dusty Rhodes matches?  Because that’s how you get more Dusty Rhodes matches!  I mean, I understand booing Martel because fuck him and his shitty title reign in 1985 and frankly people had put up with a lot from it already, but Stan Hansen is a BADASS!  What’s the problem with Stan?  Rick keeps going back to the arm, but walks into a backbreaker and now he’s fucked.  Hansen drops knees on the back and follows with a back suplex for two, and he drops an elbow for two.  Martel gets his knees up on a splash and makes a comeback, elbowing Hansen down for two.  Kneedrop gets two.  He slams Hansen but hurts his own back on the move again, and then can’t get Stan up for a suplex as a result and Hansen reverses to his own for two.  Hansen with the abdominal stretch and he’s one of the few guys who can make it look painful, but Martel dumps him out of the ring to escape.  Hansen just keeps coming and pounds away in the corner, but Martel rolls him up for two.  Stan boots him down again and does the Boston crab in the corner and HOLY SHIT IT’S THIS MATCH?!?  Yup, he puts his head in the corner for leverage to block Martel’s escape, and Rick Martel submits away the AWA World title at 14:02 as the crowd ERUPTS in shock.  Oh sure, NOW they cheer when they get a major title change.  Fuck this crowd, this was a sneaky great match with Martel selling the back throughout and building to the story of the finish.  ****

I had no idea this was the title change in the main event!  Talk about a Hidden Gem.  Anyway, this was not really much worth going out of your way to see, but I really liked the main event and was legitimately surprised that this was a famous match that I had never seen before.