I always suggested that these NWA World Championship Wrestling programmes might be the death of this project, and it has slowed me down getting these thoughts down on paper. In fact, I’ve actually got my next column (looking at next weeks’ Memphis and Mid-South) already prepared. Just the way things are, I guess. Anyways, let us head straight to the action.
NWA World Championship Wrestling 22.02.1986
For once, I’ll take the chronological approach to this show, though will still gloss over several of the less important squashes in the desire for this not to be ludicrous in size. We get video footage of Jimmy Garvin pre-opening video, as he is due to make an appearance here to supplement the interview we saw on NWA Pro. Before we get to our first match, we have more Rock and Roll Express talk about Betty Lou (the cage) and The Midnight Express.
The Road Warriors are the first guys in the ring this evening, as they took on Bill Mulkey and Carl Styles. This is standard Warriors fare, jumping the jobbers from start and giving them nothing. A clothesline from Animal and a top rope splash from Hawk is enough for the victory in around a minute. The Warriors get time on the mic following the match, promising they will kick the Russians out of the country, whilst also talking about the Midnights’ tag team gold.
Tully Blanchard, in a not too dissimilar vein to Arn Anderson, is a great wrestler for giving something to his opponent, so the match between him and Mike Jackson is fairly competitive. In the early sections, Jackson even outwrestles Blanchard in place, only for Blanchard to slap him in the face to get Jackson irate. Jackson is sent out to ringside a couple of times as Blanchard uses his experience to control the match, throwing in the odd cheapshot for good measure. Just as it seems Jackson is getting back into the match, even managing to punch Blanchard through the ropes to the apron edge at one point, Blanchard hits him with a shoot to the gut and lands the slingshot suplex for three.
Before Baron Von Rashcke defeated Rocky King with the claw, Ric Flair is out to show off the new NWA World Heavyweight Title. Whilst the old belt is a classic, this is the one belt that is synonymous with NWA, especially in its transition to WCW.
We get more Jimmy Garvin, this time in a pre-taped promo from before the show, rather than the interview we saw on NWA Pro. The content is mostly the same, though Magnum TA and Dusty Rhodes are both name checked specifically this time. How Garvin will slot in amongst the multitude of feuds that are going on involving these guys at the moment will be interesting.
The newest member of Paul Jones’ Army is out for the next match as we get our first singles match view of Teijo Khan as he goes up against George South. Khan inspires little interest from me, with offense that is Crazed Heel 101, including obligatory chokes whenever in doubt. An awkward looking powerslam is enough for the victory.
Following an interview with Dusty Rhodes and Baby Doll, who talk about the continued suggestions that Tully Blanchard will be winning the title in the next few weeks, Ron Garvin takes on Don Owens. Over the past few weeks, I do feel that Garvin has started to use more submission holds and locks, mixed in with his regular slaps and strikes, to offer something a little different in the ring. In particular, we see a rolling facelock takedown and a bow and arrow-esque submission, inevitably leading to the Hands of Stone punch. When Garvin gets the mic, his thoughts are very much still on Ric Flair, and he promises collisions yet to come.
Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised about the quality of the next match considering they are both champions, but Arn Anderson and Denny Brown put on a really fun match next on the show. Brown is the junior heavyweight champion, and for the majority of the early going, he outwrestles Anderson, including a neat segment where he blocks an Anderson cheapshot and drops him with a punch of his own. It feels like Anderson can’t compete with the speed, as Brown avoids an elbowdrop and hits an armdrag to lead into a succession of arm locks. It is a good old fashioned fist to the gut that finally slows down Brown, and it is the gut that gets targeted with a body vice and a drop onto the top rope. Anderson does one of my favourite spots by breaking up a sunset flip with a punch to the face. Brown does manage to telegraph a back body drop attempt, only for Anderson to hit a gourdbuster out of nowhere. Anderson continues the beat down after the bell, leading to Dusty Rhodes (who joined mid-match) and Magnum TA to hit the ring and run Anderson off. A very good TV match, with Brown in particular looking impressive.
Anderson actually joins Ric Flair at the commentary booth, where he had been for the whole of Anderson’s match with Denny Brown. We get to see footage of Ric Flair vs Ronnie Garvin, a match that goes to a 60-minute draw, only for the ref to count a pinfall on a Hands of Stone punch after the bell to send the fans home happy. Unsurprisingly, Flair is furious that this happened.
We get a standard Barbarian squash as he defeats Kent Glover with his flying headbutt. It is a shame that we haven’t seen a little bit more from the Ron Bass feud, considering this was about the only think that threatened to make Jones or Bass interesting.
Prior to a Midnight Express vs Mike Simani and Larry Clarke match, we get Jim Cornette providing medical evidence that he was not in fit enough condition to go into the cage in the match against The Rock and Roll Express. A nice little touch for sure. We get focused Midnights this time, as they waste very little motion in taking apart their opponents. Notably, Bobby Eaton dives on Simani from the top rope to the outside in an insane spot for 1986! An Eaton swinging neckbreaker and top rope kneedrop lead to a Condrey full nelson facebuster for the victory. Celebrations are cut short by the Rock and Roll Express who appear with tennis rackets in hand.
An interesting interview segment sees Tully Blanchard and James J Dillon discuss not only Dusty Rhodes, but the Jim Crockett Sr. Memorial Tournament. Within the interview, it is implied that Jimmy Garvin could end up being Blanchard’s partner.
Whilst I don’t particularly like him, I do feel a little sorry for Black Bart in this situation, as he teams with Thunderfoot to take on The Rock and Roll Express. Only a couple of weeks ago, he was squashing jobbers on Pro. As is often the way with more notable stars going into these types of squash matches, Bart gets some offense, including dropping Morton throat first across the top rope as a neat reversal. He also isn’t around for the finish, as he tries to wipe out one of the RnR with a clothesline and plummets over the top rope. This leaves Thunderfoot easy pickings for the Express’ double dropkick.
The ending of the show sees a few different interview segments that continue to develop the Russians/Road Warriors/Magnum TA angle. We hear from the Warriors once again, before The Russians talk about Nikita’s refusal to fight until Magnum TA agrees to put the US Title on the line. At this point, Magnum TA is in the ring ready to fight Bill Tabb, and he lands the belly to belly following a dropkick in around a minute. To close the show, we finally get the two men going at it, as Magnum and Nikita have a massive brawl at ringside, a brawl so sizeable that the locker-room practically empties to split them up. It is a simple technique, but it really sells the magnitude of these two guys locking horns.
Best show of the week:
It feels like a cop-out, but I can’t really suggest any of them. That is not to say that they were all bad, but each had areas that were detrimental to the overall show in some way. With that being said, I feel extra kudos for the Arn Anderson vs Denny Brown match is deserved.