The final two shows of the week are both from the NWA as we head to World Championship Wrestling and Pro. Things are heating up as many tag teams get a chance to tune up on the road to the Jim Crockett Sr. Memorial Tournament, whilst we also get a title change on Pro.
NWA World Championship Wrestling 22.03.1986
The pre-show VT shows footage of a match between Sam Houston and Black Bart, with the referee taking a bump off of Houston dropkicking Bart into the collision. Following the opening credits, we are informed that Black Bart would go on to defeat Houston for the Mid Atlantic Heavyweight Title. Before the first match, we have the Rock and Roll Express out to talk about the Jim Crockett Sr. Memorial Tournament, but they also have words for The Midnights, who they are due to have title matches with in the coming weeks, and Ric Flair, as the Morton and Flair feud continues to bubble under the surface.
The first match of the evening has Jimmy Valiant out to take on Kent Glover, and it is fairly standard Valiant fare. Rakes, thumbs to the throat and back scratches are all used, as Valiant proclaims ‘This is for the weasel’, aiming his jibes at Paul Jones. An elbow and an elbowdrop are enough for Valiant to pick up the victory.
Ron Garvin is out at the commentary booth next, and he talks about a cage match that has been booked between himself and Flair for the NWA World Heavyweight Title. Garvin talks about how he likes that a cage will keep the Horsemen out, but it is the usual plodding Garvin promo to be honest. It is followed by a return to the pre-show footage as Black Bart defeats Sam Houston. After the bump, Houston would hit his bulldog but with no referee to count the pinfall. Bart would grab a handful of trunks to pitch Houston to the outside, and catch him with a second rope legdrop to the back of the head as he came back in to get the three count and win the title. I’m surprised they took the belt off of Houston so quickly, especially to give it to someone who was jobbing as part of a tag team around a month prior to this.
Jim Cornette is out for the first of three times this evening, as he is still not happy with the seedings for the tournament. He makes it clear that no matter where the Midnights are seeded, they will
It is always strange seeing Ray Traylor do job duty, but with his partner Phil Brown and their opponents The Midnight Express, he isn’t exactly going to break his duck tonight. As Traylor and Brown get beaten down in the ring, Cornette continues to complain about the seedings, with Schiavone trying to rationalise that the seedings are based on offense due to the time limit and the ‘win only’ rules. At least he tries. Brown is subjected to the first Air Eaton move, an elbowdrop, but pulls Brown up at two. As is becoming the norm, the only way Traylor and Brown tag is through the Midnights throwing them back into the corner. Even Traylor gets manhandled, with a particularly impressive back suplex by Eaton. Cornette finds every opportunity to show off the belts to the opponents in the ring and Brown is even brought to the camera to allow Eaton to show off his own punches. The two champions also play catch to the outside, with Eaton missing Brown’s flying body. The Rocket Launcher eventually puts the challengers out of their misery.
The announcement that follows involves the rest of the teams for the Jim Crockett Sr. Memorial Cup Tournament being announced. The next fourteen teams are:
Wahoo McDaniel and Mark Youngblood
Black Bart and Jimmy Garvin
Hector and Chavo Guerrero
The Barbarian and Baron von Raschke
Buzz Sawyer and Rick Steiner
Jimmy Valiant and Manny Fernandez
The Fabulous Ones
Nelson Royal and Sam Houston
Bill Dundee and Buddy Landell
Bobby Jaggers and Mike Miller
The Batten Twins
Koko B Ware and The Itallian Stallion
Brett Wayne Sawyer and David Peterson
Peaks and troughs, but when you add in the first ten teams, a stacked tournament.
The next match in the ring is Leo Burke against Don Graves, and the biggest issue for Burke is that he doesn’t feel too dissimilar from a lot of the other jobber talents I see for NWA week in, week out. He beats Graves down with minimal hassle, pulling him up at two following a samoan drop style move. He does the same following a back suplex, getting up afterwards to shadow box. A third time following a russian leg sweep at least gets a reaction out of the crowd, but by the rourth time he does it with a piledriver, it feels a bit too much. Even worse, he beats him with a dropkick, rather than a piledriver. Odd booking, especially when they overturned the result after the following promo due to the piledriver technically being illegal in the NWA. Way to blow a chance to get over.
Jimmy Garvin tells Schiavone that he chased Wahoo McDaniel looking for an opportunity to fight him tonight, but claims that McDaniel is a coward and might not even turn up for his scheduled match later on the show. Garvin’s own opponent is Bill Mulkey and ‘Gorgeous’ begins his taunting of Wahoo from within the ring. Mulkey aims a few tired shots at the stomach, but Garvin controls the match, locking Mulkey up in a modified camel clutch. Garvin hits a greco roman side suplex, only to pull Mulkey up off of the mat, which is less effective considering the overuse by Burke in the previous match. Mulkey fights back, but is cut off quickly. A couple more camel clutch-type stretches lead to the suplex/brainbuster for the easy three count.
Dusty Rhodes appears to be here only to promote a cage match between himself and Arn Anderson, before celebrating the return to TV of Wahoo McDaniel.
After weeks of taunting by Jimmy Garvin, Wahoo McDaniel finally reappears in an NWA ring to face off against Bob Owens. Both men spend time working the arm, with McDaniel getting the better with a top wrist lock and hammerlock. A short section of grappling on the mat follows, before McDaniel wails away with several chops and the chop off of the rope to get the pinfall. Pretty underwhelming, but will be interesting to see where the feud between him and Garvin goes.
After some time to promote the LSU baseketball team, Paul Jones is out with Baron Von Raschke and Teijo Kahn promising a big surprise for Jimmy Valiant next week. A new member for the Army, perhaps? The two current members of the Army take on Tony Zane and The Italian Stallion. Initially, the Stallion is able to outwrestle Kahn, but Zane doesn’t have the same luck. As Von Raschke runs through his repertoire of snapmares and kicks, Jones spends time reprimanding Kahn for his performance thus far. The story of the match is primarily that Stallion is a match for the other two, but as soon as Zane is brought back in, Von Raschke is able to take back over before tagging to a refocused Kahn. We get the obligatory ‘Jones interference spot’ with Zane getting rammed into the ringpost as Kahn distracts the ref and the Stallion. A Kahn powerslam is followed by the Raschke claw for the victory.
Ric Flair is then out on the microphone, talking really creepily about co-eds before promising that this title shot for Dusty Rhodes will be his last. Another promo follows with a man called Joe Nighthawk Coltrane, though the fact that I have never since heard of him doesn’t exactly fill me with the belief that he will bring much to the table. After being introduced, he is effectively run off by Jim Cornette anyway.
The Rock and Roll Express are up against Larry Clarke and Paul Garner and they seem to have ditched the tennis rackets that they begun carrying a few weeks ago. Even though, in a similar vein to the Fantastics, the Rock and Roll Express churn out mostly the same type of matches with their jobbers, they just feel a lot more interesting and engaging than the Fantastics. Quick tags, takedowns and arm work are the order of the day as per usual, with both Clarke and Garner getting nothing of note on offense. A double dropkick on Clarke is enough to get the win in short order. I’ve yet to see a return to a jobber match with the Rock and Roll Express that involves a brief face in peril section like the first one this year.
After another promo by Ric Flair promoting the belt and the team, Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard are getting in the practice time pre-Jim Crockett Memorial Sr. Cup against the luminaries of Mike Simani and Ron Rossi. This is one of the earliest opportunities I’ve had to see what would later form the Brainbusters, and Simani is destroyed early, with an Anderson powerslam a particular highlight. The two heels target the leg and use quick tags to allow the offense to stay high tempo, dropping knees and legs to work on Simani’s left side. As Simani is dissected, Flair continues to talk about his dislike for the cage match he is due to have with Ron Garvin, The Teeny Booper Express (Rock and Roll) and The Midnight Express (perceived jealousy). A backbreaker/second rope kneedrop combo seems like a potential finish, but Blanchard and Anderson one-up it with a super-gourdbuster, leaving Simani no chance to beat the three count.
Wahoo McDaniel talks about Jimmy Garvin, saying how it is easy to talk when you know someone isn’t around. They make the mistake of bringing Magnum TA out (off screen) when McDaniel is talking, meaning the fans pop for him as McDaniel is trying to talk meaningfully about Garvin. The TA match is his standard short squash, hitting a couple of armdrags, a punch and the belly to belly suplex for a win in less than half a minute. Magnum TA then joins McDaniel at the commentary booth, who is carrying his strap and promising to team up with TA and Rhodes against the Four Horseman. When TA gets the mic, he is naturally very vocal about Nikita Koloff, and it turns out that the Russian has offered Magnum out in a chain match, a match that TA has chosen to accept.
Whenever we get Magnum on the mike, it isn’t often very long before the Koloffs are out to retort, and after the advert, Ivan Koloff is incredibly happy that TA has accepted the chain match. The Kremlin apparently are writing up the contract, and Nikita promises to cause injuries to the current US Champion. Before they leave, they also have words for the Road Warriors as that feud rumbles on. Ivan Koloff heads straight from the commentary booth to the ring to fight Rocky Kernodle. Koloff is always a masterclass of heel squash beatdowns, giving his opponent enough to keep the crowd interested, and using every heel trick in the book even against lesser opposition. Kernodle gets a one count off of a sunset flip and even avoids an elbowdrop, but it isn’t long before Koloff suckers him in with a test of strength, kicking him in the gut when it seems things aren’t working out. Kernodle has a couple more hope spots during the match, but Koloff comes close to victory with a second rope first drop. Nikita even gets involved with a Russian sickle on the floor, throwing him back in for Ivan to pick up the three count.
Jimmy Garvin is back out, wearing different gear than when he came out to wrestle – man has style. He is out to retort against McDaniel, even going as far as to besmirch the feathers McDaniel wears on his head. It becomes a bit ‘you are fat and smell’ in nature, but I do generally enjoy Garvin on the mike in small doses. After a break to share birthday and anniversary announcements, Cornette is back out to badmouth ‘million dollar bodies and ten cents brains’ The Road Warriors. Nighthawk Coltrane comes out and stands up to Cornette. The Midnights are out to protect their manager, leaving the Rock and Roll Express to come out and run off the trio.
The final match of the evening has Ron Garvin against Brodie Chase, with Chase ending up like a pretzel within the first minute of the match. Garvin bullies him about with his usual mixture of strikes and throws, twisting him with an abdominal stretch with additional slaps before putting him down with the Hands of Stone punch. Before we go to the credits, we have a retort from Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard towards Wahoo McDaniel, as they profess that they don’t fear McDaniel or his whip.
NWA Pro 22.03.1986
The Midnight Express are heading down to the ring as we join this week’s episode of Pro. The Express generally aren’t as exciting on Pro, as they are often given a lot less time to run through their exciting offense. Their opponents are Rocky and Don Kernodle, and I can only feel sorry for Don in this situation. Don at least shows what he is capable of with an arm drag on Eaton and brawling out of the corner when the Express try to double team him. The faces even get a couple of quick tags in, with a couple of hope spots as Rocky gets a crossbody and a roll-up. Unfortunately, the roll-up is reversed by a Condrey clothesline and the Express win with limited actual offense.
Jimmy Garvin is still looking for Wahoo McDaniel, and we get a repeat of the McDaniel music video from a week ago. After the video finishes, Garvin decides to leave as McDaniel is too busy at home making small wooden Indians to meet him.
It feels like a little time since we had Tully Blanchard in a singles match, but tonight he is up against George South. South often is given enough of a chance to look good, and initially is able to outwrestle Blanchard down on the mat, driving knees into the hammerlock for good measure. It takes a cheap shot elbow to stop South and finally allow Blanchard to take control. One slingshot suplex later, Blanchard wins. Again, a victory with little in the way of any actual offence.
Contradicting his decision earlier to leave, Jimmy Garvin is up next to face Rocky King. The fans are firmly behind King, the perennial jobber getting chants as Precious helps Garvin get out of his flamboyant attire. An early dropkick has King down, and although he throws a few punches, a back body drop and a brainbuster has King defeated in real short order. Typical Pro squash, with limited time and moves even for the bigger stars on show.
Jim Cornette is still incredibly unhappy about the seedings, especially as he believes that it is a conspiracy by the owners who don’t want the Midnight Express to win. Cornette believes that they will be able to defeat both the Rock and Roll Express and the Road Warriors on their way to victory.
This is one of those moments where I have already had an outcome spoilt for me by the ability to watch World Championship Wrestling – the next match in the ring is Sam Houston defending the Mid Atlantic Championship against Black Bart. To be fair, Houston is very over with the fans, though he looks really small compared to Bart and outmatched because of it. In the early going, it is all about Houston’s speed as he lands three dropkicks in a row to send Bart fleeing to the outside, before a further dropkick sends Bart over the top rope to the floor. Ron Garvin on commentary believes this could be a main event match anywhere, forever stretching the concept of what a main event can be. Every time Bart seems to be building momentum, Houston is able to use his speed to counter, moving away from a corner charge and targeting Bart’s arm on the mat. A poorly timed advert finishes with Bart in control, dropping Houston throat first on the top rope. Whilst neither man is the best in the ring, Bart has enough big man heel offense and Houston is a legitimate enough face in peril to make the match at least watchable. The finish was already covered on WCW, but worth mentioning how legitimate the legdrop to the back of the neck feels as a finish.
SHOW OF THE WEEK
It has to go to the UWF re-branding show. Two big title changes, even if the first one came off of the tail end of a really convoluted storyline. The decision to put the Sheepherders over felt like a bold move, and excited me to see where they were heading next.