The SmarK Rant for the Crockett Cup 86 – 04.19.86 (Part Two)
Carrying on now with the quarterfinal round, plus two singles matches.
Taped from New Orleans, LA at the Superdome, drawing 13,000 people to the evening session. And yes, as pointed out in the comments, young Bruce Prichard is the ring announcer for the show.
Quarterfinal #1: The Midnight Express (3rd seed) v. The Road Warriors (1st seed)
Also as noted in the comments yesterday, we have switched from a strictly handheld video camera for the first show to a more traditional hard camera + handhelds setup for the evening show. Condrey tries a headlock on Animal and gets overpowered as a result, and then tries a dropkick and misses, allowing Animal to hit his own and chase him out of the ring. Back in, Dennis decides it’s time to flex at the Warriors to reassert his dominance, but Hawk comes in and kicks his ass anyway and chases both Express to the floor. Back in, Condrey tries a piledriver on Hawk, but you know how that goes. Clearly a better gameplan is needed here. Eaton comes in and immediately runs away from a Hawk clothesline, so Animal throws him back into the ring and then Hawk clotheslines him out to the floor again! Tremendous comedic timing from Eaton there. Finally Condrey slams Hawk and sets up for a Rocket Launcher right away, but Hawk casually catches Bobby and slams him, and then follows with a shoulderbreaker and the Warriors double-team him in the corner and chase the Express out of the ring AGAIN. Next up, Condrey hits Animal with a cheap knee to the gut and rakes the eyes to finally get some heat on him, and then Cornette trips up Animal and the Warriors win by DQ out of nowhere at 8:10. Talk about a nothing match, as the Midnights never even got any offense and the match was 90% the heels running away to the outside. ½*
Quarterfinal #2: Ivan & Nikita Koloff (8th seed) v. Terry Taylor & Steve Williams (10th seed)
Winner of this gets the Road Warriors in the semi-finals, I think. The brackets are pretty wacky for this tournament to be honest. Taylor trades wristlocks with Uncle Ivan to start and gets a monkey flip out of the corner as the Russians retreat to the outside and collude with Eddie Gilbert. Back in, Team Stampeding Roosters double-team Ivan in the corner and Doc gets a LONG press slam on Ivan, holding him up there for a 10 count before dropping him. That gets two. Taylor works on the arm while the ref is asking him if he gives up yet. “What do you say, Russian, what about now?” He’s a COMMIE! Of course he’s gonna lie about whether he wants to give it up! I’m also amused at Carl Fergie not even calling him by name, just reducing him to “Russian”. Nikita yells at the ref about his cultural insensitivity while Taylor gets a visual pinfall on Ivan (or “Russian” as the ref calls him) and Team Doc & Cock continue working the arm in the corner. We get a funny spot as Nikita is yelling at the ref from the neutral corner and gets so wrapped up in the argument that he forgets to go over and wait for the tag, which of course is when Ivan escapes the armbar and tries for the tag. Doc cuts off the tag and slams Ivan for two and goes back to the arm again, taking Ivan back into the corner of Team Murder Most Fowl. Bet you didn’t think I could come up with three funny names for the team before the Russians got the heat. Showed you. Finally Ivan rakes the eyes of Doc and brings Nikita in, and he’s got that BDE going tonight as they flex at each other. So they do the dramatic lockup and shoulderblock battle, but Nikita stops to flex again and Williams dropkicks him out of the ring to a YOOGE pop. Back in, Nikita demands a test of strength and of course Doc isn’t going to let this challenge to the manhood of AMERICA stand while Nikita yells nonsense fake Russian insults at him. I swear that Nikita was just yelling the stuff that the masks in Crash Bandicoot do. But it SOUNDED convincing! The test of strength goes nowhere, so Nikita kicks him in the gut, like delivering a knee to the HEARTLAND OF AMERICA, and the Russians take over in the corner and beat him down. Ivan goes up and Doc slams him off and follows with a dropkick for two, but Ivan puts him down with a neckbreaker and Nikita drops an elbow for two. Nikita with the facelock to cut off the ring, but Doc powerslams Ivan for two and makes the hot tag to Taylor. Ivan immediately cuts him off, however, and Nikita comes in with a slam and tosses him to the floor to take over again. As god is my witness, I thought roosters could fly! Back in, Ivan proceeds to kicking him in the head, but Taylor gets a bodypress for two with time running down. Nikita goes to the bearhug and they beat Taylor down in the corner again, as Ivan gets two and HOT DAMN this is the most accurate timekeeper countdown I’ve ever heard. He’s dead on with my own stopwatch app. And they continue beating on Taylor until time expires at 20:00. Unfortunately the match had a first and second act and then never actually went anywhere after that, but this was still tremendous fun and a surprise highlight of the show. ***1/2 And then the Russians (including Gilbert’s Dollar store Russian Gorchenko) triple-team Williams while Eddie Gilbert demands the crowd show some respect for real men. Duly noted.
Quarterfinal #3: The Fantastics (unseeded) v. The Sheepherders (9th seed)
Now the one that we’ve all been waiting for. The Fantastics do the pledge of allegiance for ‘MURICA to really get the babyface heat, and immediately clean house on the Herders with dropkicks. I’ve always found that whole pledge thing kind of creepy, actually. The Herders quickly trap Bobby in the corner and go to work on him, but he fights back with dropkicks and the Herders regroup on the floor. Back in, Rogers gets a headlock on Luke and follows with a sunset flip for two. Butch comes in and Fulton works him over in the babyface corner, but Luke slugs him down, only for Bobby to comes back with an atomic drop that sends Luke into Butch and puts them on the floor again. Back in, Bobby gets tossed, but he fights back with dropkicks on Butch outside and they all have a brawl on the floor that ends with Fulton going headfirst into the post and wearing the CRIMSON MASK. Back in, he fights back with a clothesline on Butch, but the heels cut off the ring and Luke bites the cut for the easy heel heat, sending Bobby to the floor again. They send him into the railing as he does the Ricky Morton sell for the front row, looking right at the crowd with his bloody face to draw sympathy. Back in, Butch brings the flag in, but Bobby runs Luke into him and it’s HOT TAG Rogers, and now Luke is bleeding. Tommy goes after the cut and gets a flying fist before slugging away on the cut, but the ref gets wiped out in the chaos. Everyone slugs it out and Bobby goes after Jack Victory, but he gets laid out from behind and sent into the post again. Back in, Butch nails Tommy with the flag and the Herders double-team him and brutalize him, but Fulton saves and the Fantastics double-team with the flag themselves until a second ref comes out and calls for the bell at 14:38 to eliminate both teams. And they keep brawling and bleeding all over until the heels run away. Also notable, Mad Maxine comes out to help the heels, and she was supposed to be the big heel women’s wrestling star against Wendi Richter before dropping off the face of the earth. Anyway, I’m gonna be the one to say it: It was really good, but it’s nowhere near the five stars that Meltzer gave it at the time, and I was actually kind of disappointed. I liked the Tully and Arn match WAY better overall. ***1/2
Quarterfinal #4: Tiger Mask & Giant Baba (7th seed) v. Magnum TA & Ron Garvin (2nd seed)
So with a draw and a DDQ in two of the quarterfinals, that means there won’t be a semi-final round and the winning team here faces the Road Warriors for the Cup. I’m gonna go out on a limb and guess that this is gonna be a style clash of epic proportions. Tiger Mask works on Garvin’s arm to start, but Ronnie takes him over with a half crab. Magnum comes in with a headlock on Mask and Garvin rolls him up for two. Over to Baba, who takes Garvin down with an armbar and they fight over that on the mat. Magnum comes in and Tiger Mask dropkicks him and drops an elbow for two, and Baba goes to a facelock as this match has ZERO heat so far. Baba with a neckbreaker for two and Mask gets a dropkick for two and he goes to a chinlock and this match is going NOWHERE. TA fights back with a sunset flip for two, but Baba rolls him up for two and you haven’t lived until you’ve seen Giant Baba doing a schoolboy on Magnum TA. Over to Garvin and he chops away on Baba and gets nowhere, and suddenly it’s BREAKING LOOSE IN TULSA for no apparent reason. The AJ guys collide and Magnum rolls up Baba for two, but Tiger Mask dropkicks TA and adds a senton for two. Tiger goes up and tries a bodypress and I think Magnum was supposed to catch him in a belly to belly but instead he just kind of drops him and pins him at 9:55 to advance to the finals. Woof that was bad. *
UWF North American title: Hacksaw Jim Duggan v. Dick Slater
This was a weird period for the UWF because Watts had rebranded Mid-South as UWF, but they hadn’t done the tournament for the UWF World title yet so the North American title was left as the big belt for another week or so. This match is actually the result of a really clever angle, as Dick Slater was TV champion and then won the North American title as well (and yes he WAS booking, why do you ask?) and so decided to give the TV title to Buzz Sawyer. So Bill Watts forced Buzz to defend the TV title against Hacksaw Duggan, but then switched the contract and in fact tricked Slater into signing a deal where Buzz was defending the NORTH AMERICAN title on his behalf instead, and Duggan beat Buzz to win the title, leaving Buzz as the TV champion and Slater with nothing. And then they retired the North American title and Terry Gordy won the UWF World title tournament, leaving Duggan also with nothing and everyone unhappy. Duggan gets a cheapshot in the corner to start and feigns innocence about it, then clotheslines Slater out of the corner and chases him to the floor while the crowd yells very mean names at him. Geez, the guy’s already named “Dick”, cut him a break. Back in, they fight over a wristlock and Slater misses an elbow off that, and Duggan beats on him in the corner again. Finally Slater rakes the eyes and tosses him to take over, and Duggan takes a dramatic bump into the railing and knocks it over, landing in the front row. Back in, Slater goes to a chinlock on the mat. Slater goes up and Duggan nails him on the way down and slugs away to make a comeback, and a kneedrop gets two. They trade atomic drops and the ref is bumped on purpose by Slater, allowing him to go to the top and hit the elbow for two. Duggan comes back again, hits the three point stance, and retains the title at 9:09. This was a pretty lazy non-effort from both guys but wasn’t terrible or anything. *1/2
NWA World title: Ric Flair v. Dusty Rhodes
Oh hey it’s another Flair-Dusty title match in 1986. **1/2
Sorry, I suppose I should actually review it first. Force of habit. Baby Doll is with Dusty and you know the New Orleans crowd is on something because they’re catcalling her. Go home, Superdome, you’re drunk! They trade hammerlocks to start and the dainty Baby Doll bellows advice from ringside like a curling skip at a bonspiel. HARDER! PUSH HIM HARDER! That one would be funnier if you were Canadian, granted. Dusty takes her very loud advice and slugs Flair to the floor, and then back in Flair walks into a bionic elbow and retreats to the corner. He also tells Baby Doll to shut up, which is what we’re all thinking, I’m pretty sure. Flair with chops in the corner and he hits a kneedrop, despite the sage advice of Baby Doll, who was screaming WATCH IT DUSTY, DUSTY MOVE! Whatever he’s paying her isn’t enough. Flair tosses him and Dusty takes a leisurely bump to the floor and manages to gig himself on the way down, at which point Flair sends him into the post and I’m guessing that’s where he was supposed to have been busted open. Back in, Flair misses a kneedrop and Dusty wraps the leg around the post and then goes to work on it, but Flair uses the ropes for two. And Tommy Young pulls him off the ropes! That’s some Joey Marella-level refereeing there. Not cool. Dusty tries to work the knee again, but Flair rakes the eyes and they trade chops this time. Flair gets a sleeper so Dusty can have his contractually obligated 3 minute rest period, but actually breaks free after only 30 seconds this time. Flair goes to work on the knee and gets the figure-four, but Dusty reverses and Flair breaks the hold. So now Dusty goes after the knee, but they fight to the floor, where Flair meets the post and yeah, now he’s bleeding as well. Dusty works him over and gets his own sleeper, putting Flair down for two. Suplex gets two. Dusty gets his own figure-four, but Flair makes the ropes, so Dusty hits him with a shoulderblock and poor Tommy Young goes flying out of the ring while Dusty gets a visual pinfall. Flair then pulls off Dusty’s own boot and nails him with it, but that only gets two. And then Baby Doll gets involved and Flair goes after her, but Dusty grabs his boot and hits Flair for the DQ at 20:31 in defense of his manager or whatever she was supposed to be at that point. As I was saying. **1/2
Crockett Cup final: The Road Warriors (1st seed) v. Ron Garvin & Magnum TA (2nd seed)
So not exactly a grueling trip to the finals for either team, and really this tournament was SCREAMING for the Russians to be facing the Warriors here, but they’d get better about booking the next two. TA hits Animal with a dropkick to start and they fight over a wristlock, which goes nowhere. Garvin comes in and slugs it out with Hawk, and he ends up getting stomped down in the corner. Hawk quickly goes to a chinlock and then hits Ron with a press slam, but he goes up and misses a flying clothesline and Garvin cradles him for two. TA comes in and hits Hawk with a dropkick for two, but the Warriors double-team him in their corner and Animal puts the boots to him and pounds the back. This sets up a bearhug, and then Hawk comes in with a gutwrench for two on Magnum for two. Canadian backbreaker gets two. Animal comes in with a chinlock and Magnum fights out of that, so the Warriors double-team him again and cut off the ring. Magnum tries a sunset flip and Hawk slugs out of that, but he misses a legdrop, so Animal comes in again and powerslams TA for two. Magnum comes back with the belly to belly out of nowhere for two, but Hawk makes the save, and it’s hot tag Garvin. He puts Hawk down with headbutts and tries for an abdominal stretch, but Hawk escapes, so Garvin hits him with the Hands of Stone. But his hand had previously been broken and he hurts himself on the move, and then Animal sneaks in behind the ref’s back, clotheslines him, and gets the pin at 9:50 to win the first Crockett Cup. Pretty good tag match with the Warriors playing subtle heels. *** And then Jim Crockett’s mom presents the money and Cup to “The Road Runners” as we wrap it up. Hopefully the cheque was sponsored by Acme.
I’d say that for the time, it was an excellent show overall, with the Fantastics stealing the show, and I’m glad I finally watched the whole thing. Hopefully they do something similar with the 87 and 88 versions and put them on the Network someday, but I’m not holding my breath.