NWA Best of Championship Wrestling 19.02.1984
Following the previous week in Georgia, with Brad Armstrong defeating Ted Dibiase for the NWA National Heavyweight, the episode starts with Gordon Solie giving props to the new champion. Before we head to the ring, we’d get joined by the NWA World Heavyweight Champion, Ric Flair. It is interesting to watch Flair in GCW, as he clearly presents himself as a face, even though he would turn up in local territories and be the necessary heel foil to the babyface star of the promotion. Strangely (though not if you follow the natural suggestion of being a champion of note), they would be pushing a match at the Omni between Ric Flair and Brad Armstrong, a match I never thought would main event a show anywhere. Flair talks up Armstrong as a competitor, promising him a title shot in the near future.
Considering Flair is the travelling NWA Champion, it is rare to see him compete on TV. This week, however, he would step into the ring with Jesse Barr, a man more notoriously as Jimmy Jack Funk. Flair was the master at making anyone look at least a challenge to him inside the ring, and the two men would spend the early going grappling on the mat. Following a Barr backslide for a two count, the match would degenerate into more of a slugfest, Barr using his fists and Flair retaliating with chops. Just as it seems Barr is building momentum, landing a back body drop and a big running knee lift, Flair would roll him into a small package for the three count. A more competitive match than Flair has any right to give Barr, but all the better for it. Flair would head back to Solie post match and say that he wanted women ‘ten deep for two miles’ – and he probably got it.
My version of the show would head straight into a squash match featuring the Road Warriors and the team of Dale Veasey and Mike Starbuck. Unlike a usual Warriors squash, the storyline here seemed to be that Hawk and Animal could wrestle as well as power through teams. This would lead to the awkward sight of Hawk working both mens’ arms, which just didn’t look right at all. A less than convincing press slam – one that rivalled Nikolai Volkoff’s awful finisher set-up – by Animal would be followed up by a Hawk top rope clothesline for the three count on Starbuck. The Road Warriors as wrestling technicians? I’ll pass.
After Ted Dibiase would come out and complain about both Tommy Rich and Brad Armstrong’s actions from the previous week, we would see a match from Mid-South involving King Kong Bundy and Joe Stark. This is a basic mauling, with Bundy spending the majority of the match shouting for Stark to get up. A headlock into a bulldog would be a wrinkle of Bundy’s offense I’d never seen before, and he would actually finish with a powerslam for the five count, rather than his usual big splash. Bundy would join Solie following the showing of the match, continuing to build his feud with The Road Warriors. Bundy was actually pretty reliable on the microphone; someone I wouldn’t necessarily have expected to excel in that area.
The ‘main event’ of the evening would see Sammy Darrell take on former NWA Champion, Harley Race. As Race was announced, the ring announcer would tell the crowd that he couldn’t believe his eyes, as Bobby Heenan would join Race at ringside. However, Heenan would say ‘no comment’ both times he was asked if Race was the newest member of the Heenan Family. Darrell with have some early success, but the ease with which Race would turn a headlock into a back suplex was impressive. This would then be a showcase of Race’s offense, as he would hit a swinging neckbreaker, piledriver, butterfly style suplex (pulled up at two on the pinfall), a falling headbutt and a stalling suplex for a three count. Even post NWA title, Race had a sense of gravitas and an interesting enough move set to make him interesting to watch no matter who he was in against.
To finish the show, The Spoiler and Ted Dibiase would join Solie, with complaints yet again levelled about the behaviour of Rich and Armstrong.
A solid show, with the squash matches often at least offering something worthwhile. I’m interested to see where the Armstrong/Dibiase/Rich angle heads, which is all you can really ask for in a wrestling storyline.
In the following weeks, I will be aiming to fill in some gaps. Rather than this focusing purely on NWA as had been the original plan, I will also include WWF and Memphis. This means that some of these updates will continue through February, but I will also try and catch up on the other two big promotions of the time.