THIS RETRO BUSINESS: NWA Starrcade ’84 – The Million Dollar Challenge

A year later, the NWA returned to the Greensboro Coliseum for another STARRCADE event.
This one featured the return of NWA World Heavyweight Champion Ric Flair who would defend the title against the great Dusty Rhodes.

Let’s get to it…

We start with the finish of Starrcade ’83 which, essentially, shows Flair beating Race to become the new NWA Heavyweight Champion.

Bob Caudle and Gordon Solie (wearing a boutineer like we’ve pulled him out of a wedding) introduce Starrcade ’84.

And we are LIVE(!!!) from Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, NC.

Tom Miller sounds much more excited than last year.

MATCH #1: Denny Brown (challenger) vs. Mike Davis (champion) for the NWA World Jr. Heavyweight Championship
Earl Hebner is introduced as the referee (!) as a dude in the crowd yells, “RING THE BELL”. My thoughts exactly. Let’s get this over with. It starts with Brown hitting a hip toss and some nice head scissors along with an arm drag into an arm bar. Davis breaks out and the same thing happens again as it sounds like 7 people are in the audience. Davis gets out again and Brown runs at him and ends up falling out of the ring as Davis ducks him. Davis puts him back in the ring and slams him a couple times and then stares at him like he’s changing colors. He hits a backbreaker and gets two. Brown comes back with an elbow off the ropes and then hits some sort of forearm off the ropes along with a dropkick. Two count. The two end up colliding as Brown whips Davis into the ropes. Davis hits a German Suplex and gets the win…or so you’d think. Wait. They give the belt to Brown. Then announce Davis the winner. Ok. Then they correct it. Brown’s the new champ.
WINNER AND NEW CHAMPION: Denny Brown via pinfall
GRADE: D+. Not TOO bad but a really weird finish.

The replay shows that Brown did have his shoulder up as Solie looks beyond bored.

  • Davis left the NWA after the title loss where he wrestled for the AWA and WCCW. His claim to fame was being part of a team called, “The Rock n’ Roll RPM’s”. He would wrestle for WCW and WWF after this as a “Jobber to the Stars”. In 2001, Davis would succumb to a heart attack and pass away. He was only 45 years old.

Tony Schiavone says he’s in the dressing room “like last year”. He’s in the dressing room because it’s nice being in the dressing room where all the other guys hang out. In the dressing room. Flair is pacing behind him. They will be back there. In the dressing room, says Schiavone.

MATCH #2: Mr. Ito vs. Brian Adidis
Ito is like a much thinner Yokozuna. They trade lock-ups and holds before Ito puts Adidis in a side headlock. Adidis breaks out and hits a dropkick off the ropes, hitting a quick headlock. Ito breaks out of it and gets Adidis in the armbar which goes on untiL Adidis reversing it and then working on Ito’s arm. Ito finally breaks out and chops Adidis in the corner. The two trade punches and Adidis grabs Ito and hits the Airplane Spin, getting the pin.
WINNER: Adidis via Airplane Spin
GRADE: C-. Not much to it. Short and sweet.

  • Adidis was a friend of the Von Erich Family and would wrestle alongside them until 1986. He wrestled with WCCW for the rest of his career and had a short stint with ESPN’s Global Wrestling Federation before it disbanded in the early 90’s.
  • Ito mostly wrestled in Japan before this and this was pretty much the last match of his career. He would go on to play a henchman in the show, “Takeshi’s Castle” in Japan (American audiences know the parody version as “MXC: Most Xtreme Elimination Challenge) until the late 80’s. In 1996, he ended up paralyzed due to a major car accident which forced him into retirement. He passed away 15 years later in 2011, due to respiratory failure. Ito was 71 years old.

Solie and Caudle take a long look at the replay and then it’s on to the next match.

MATCH #3: Mike Graham (challenger) vs. Jesse Barr (champion) for the NWA Florida Heavyweight Championship
Graham puts Barr in a drop toehold and then Graham locks his leg. Barr retaliates with a headlock and then an armlock and that kills about a good three minutes. Graham comes out of the wristlock but Barr puts him in another armlock. Graham breaks out but gets caught in an arm drag and ANOTHER wristlock. Barr puts Graham in a corner and beats on him, keeping him in a wristlock. Graham hits a drop toehold on Barr and then locks the leg in an Indian Deathlock. He tries the Figure Four but Barr breaks out and then they pace around each other and Graham hits the Test of Strength which Barr gets the most of advantage. Graham comes back but Barr just kicks him. Graham pulls him down to the mat via the arm again and then hits the Figure Four but Barr immediately gets to the ropes and the hold is broken. Then it’s just another headlock by Barr until Graham goes after Barr’s knee and slaps on the Figure Four. Barr, though, gets to the ropes in two seconds and then nearly gets pinned by Graham in a Sunset Flip. The ref takes a bump and it’s an exchange of rolling pins. Barr pins with his feet on the ropes to win.
WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: Jesse Barr via cheat pin
GRADE: C+. This got better near the end but too little, too late.

We get the lead-up to the next match where Steamboat and Slater got their asses kicked by Black Bart and Ron Bass. Steamboat has put up $10,000 to get “revenge”.

Then we see replays from the Graham/Barr match.

MATCH #4: The Zambuie Express (Elijah Akeem & Kareem Muhammed) (w/ Paul Jones) vs. The Assassin #1 & Buzz Tyler in a Tag Team Elimination Match
If a wrestler is defeated, they must leave the ring. This works so much better in an 8-man tag scenario but, whatever. Tyler does the stupid wiggling knee dance. I thought we were past that. All four men brawl in the ring and the faces clear the ring as Paul Jones gets upset. Tyler and Kareem start and Tyler hits a punch and Kareem goes flying over the ropes, outside. Tag to Elijah/#1. Akeem gets pounded after #1 beats on him in the corner. Another tag to Tyler and Kareem beats on him near the ropes. Kareem sends him into the elbow of Akeem who tags in. A huge headbutt by Akeem and the two exchange punches in the corner and Tyler with a series of jabs. Two count after Tyler is knocked down. Kareem gets in the ring and #1’s in the ring as well. The ref is trying to get control as Kareem and #1 collide. #1 gets the pin.
WINNERS: Assassin and Tyler via pinfall
GRADE: F. Big, ugly, boring.

Post-match, #1 goes after Paul Jones who was protesting the win. Tyler shakes his knees, dancing.

  • Tyler wrestled for one more year and was last seen in 1985 after the first Great American Bash.

Gordon Solie and Bob Caudle talk about the upcoming matches and goes to Tony Schiavone in the dressing room.

Schiavone talks to Dusty Rhodes who looks like he woke up from a stroke after inhaling 63 cheeseburgers. Rhodes says he’s GunShowRicFlairWhoseGraceWrasslah, beh-beh. Everyone take heed, including Joe Fraizer cuznobuddehbestickintheynoseinhisbidniz.

MATCH #5: Ragin’ Bull Manny Fernandez (challenger) vs. Black Bart (champion) (w/ J.J. Dillon) for the NWA Brass Knuckles Championship
Bull is Spanish, borrows his name from an Italian boxer and does Asian martial arts poses. Bart’s a cowboy who wears a unitard. Something has to give. Bull gets some jabs in and knocks Bart down with a chop. Bart gets up and retaliates but Bull chops him to the mat again. The two lock up and Bart hits some punches and then knocks Bull down. He really starts decking Bull in the head and Bull is busted wide open. This match is, apparently, without rules. Bull fights back and chops Bart to the mat again and then chops him out of the ring. Dillon helps Bart up and back into the ring. Bull beats on Bart some more, then really decks him and Bart is busted open as well. Bull knocks Bart down again and gets two. Then Bart punches him in the nuts and knocks him to the mat for two. Bart continues to beat on Bull and drops his neck on the ropes. Bart goes and gets his rope from Dillon but Bull rolls Bart up for the win.
WINNER AND NEW CHAMPION: Ragin’ Bull via Rolling Pin
GRADE: F. This was two guys punching each other for eight minutes. No skill, no tension.

Solie and Caudle recap this and then show us last year’s main event where Flair won the title.

Schiavone is backstage with Ricky Steamboat and interviews about his match tonight, then an interview with Blanchard and Dillon and there’s a long, long delay before the next match with tons of analysis.

MATCH #6: Paul Jones (w/ The Zambuie Express) vs. Jimmy Valiant (w/ Assassin #1) in a Tuxedo Street Fight / Loser Must Leave Town Match
Oh joy. Even the Assassin is wearing a damn tux…except for Akeem who’s got a face like, “fuck this shit”. The announcers don’t even know which member of the Express is in Jones’ corner. I’m guessing, too. Valiant ties Jones to the top rope and then starts belting him. Valiant starts stripping himself and then Jones. Crowd is way too into this for some reason. Valiant gets Jones down to his wrestling trunks and then gets free after Akeem distracts the ref. But Valiant hulks up and no sells Jones’ punches and then hits a Sleeper after he busts Jones open. Christ, these early matches have more blood than The Passion of the Christ. Akeem gets in the ring and him and Valiant trade punches. Valiant knocks him down and out and #1 tends to Akeem. Meanwhile, J.J. Dillon is in here out of nowhere and has a foreign object. He knocks out Valiant and Jones gets the pin.
WINNER: Paul Jones via pinfall
GRADE: F. God, this sucked. 

  • Assassin #1 (AKA Jody Hamilton) who would have a short stint with the WWF after this and then retire. He worked for the WCW Power Plant until WCW’s demise in 2001 and then had another short stint with the WWE, working behind the scenes. As of 2010, he is no longer in the wrestling business.
  • Elijah Akeem (AKA Leroy Brown) would wrestle for four more years until his untimely death due to a heart attack in 1988. He was only 37 years old.
  • Kareem Muhammed (AKA Ray Candy) would wrestle for a few more years as well. He also died of a heart attack, in 1994, at the age of 43.

Tony Schiavone (who seems to get magically younger each time they cut to him) is backstage with Ric Flair. He cuts a MUCH better promo than last year and he says he is ready for Dusty Rhodes.

Back to Solie and Caudle who talk about how ready Flair is and it’s match time.

MATCH #7: Dick Slater (challenger) vs. “Cowboy” Ron Bass (champion) (w/ J.J. Dillon) for the NWA Mid-Atlantic Championship
Slater is all over Bass to start and then Dillon goes to distract Slater. Slater chases and then gets back in the ring. Bass nearly hits Slater with a chop but Slater ducks and goes after Dillon again. Slater looks at Bass and tells him to kiss his ass. Is it already 1997?! Slater gets back in the ring and Bass beckons him but Slater won’t go near Bass. Bass charges and ends up in a headlock. Bass tries to get out but cannot break from the headlock despite his efforts. Bass ends up outside the ropes and Slater Junkyard Dog Headbutts him. Slater hits a snap mare and Bass is back in the ring. Bass finally gets an advantage and starts ramming Slater’s head into the buckle. He ties Slater up in the ropes and distracts the ref so Dillon can belt Slater int he head. Dillon even chokes Slater who ends up in a suplex by Bass once he gets back in the ring. Slater reverses an attack and he hits more snap mares. Bass gets up, however, and dumps Slater out of the ring. Dillon punches at Slater and then tosses him back into the ring. Bass beats on Slater from corner to corner but Slater starts jogging around the ring and finally punches away at Bass. The ref tries to get involved but Slater dumps the ref. He goes for a pin but there’s no ref. So Dillon runs in and Slater slams him and tosses him out. Slater slams Bass and pins him. The ref comes in and taps Slater on the back. It’s a DQ.
GRADE: D+. Oh, what could have been. Bass with almost no offense and Slater is just better than this.

Post-match, Slater attacks both Dillon and Bass and clears the ring, celebrating afterwards.

  • Slater would wrestle for the NWA for the next couple of years and then jump ship to the WWF in 1986. 

And we’re back to Caudle and Solie who continues to look like he’s being forced to do this entire thing at gunpoint.

We go to the ring where we get a lonely trumpet playing the National Anthem because ‘Murica match is next.

MATCH #8: Ole Anderson & Keith Larson (w/ Don Kernodle) vs. Ivan & Nikita Koloff
It’s a brawl to start. Anderson takes one of the Koloffs outside the ring. It’s Larson starting against Ivan. Lots of double-teaming in the first minute and quick tags between Anderson and Larson. Anderson takes over and slams Ivan to the mat, tagging in Larson who hits elbows and stomps after a snap mare. Anderson continues the damage and hits a double elbow with Larson on Ivan. It’s like this for half of this match as the two faces just work on Ivan’s arm. It’s not until Ivan blocks a headbutt into the buckle that he finally tags in Nikita who just outright rams Anderson in both corners. Nikita puts Anderson in a bear hug for about the same amount of time it took for Anderson and Larson to beat on Ivan. Finally, Anderson breaks the hold and Ivan is tagged. Anderson breaks free from Ivan and tries to go for a tag but Nikita’s tagged back in and it’s Bear Hug City for another two minutes. Anderson breaks out again with a weak atomic drop and finally makes the hot tag. He is all over Nikita and Ivan, headbutting both of them. Larson goes for a dropkick and misses and Nikita hits a forearm and choke, tagging in Ivan. Larson gets a small package pin but Nikita makes the save and all four men are in the ring. Nikita and Anderson are out of of the ring and the ref tends to them. Back in the ring, Ivan gets some sort of object and decks Larson with it, getting the pin.
WINNERS: Koloffs via cheating
GRADE: D-. Needlessly long, slow match with some unskilled wrestlers. We didn’t need the dirty finish except that it did the good service of ending the mess altogether.

Post-match, Kernodle gets in the ring and whacks the Koloffs with crutches apparently made of balsa wood. Larson gets dinged during the attack.

Solie and Caudle show some replay stuff and it’s talk, talk, talk…

MATCH #9: Ricky Steamboat (challenger) vs. Tully Blanchard (champion) for the NWA World Television Championship and $10,000 dollars
Holy crap, entrance music! This is NEW! I don’t get why wrestlers put up money, too, but all right. Steamboat and Blanchard brawl to start and Steamboat gets a side headlock. Blanchard gets out of it and Steamboat knee lifts him. The two re-start a bit and pace around one another. Steamboat has a rib injury due to an angle where Steamboat had been attacked prior to the match and Blanchard goes after that, big time. Blanchard continues to kick at the rib after he hits a move on Steamboat but Steamboat kicks Blanchard in the head. He chops at Blanchard and follows up with some knees to his back, getting a two-count. He continues to lock up Blanchard but Blanchard hits the ropes to stop Steamboat’s attack. They circle each other…and circle each other…and circle each other. And Blanchard just dances around and spits in Steamboat’s face. Seriously? Finally, Blanchard is whipped into the ropes. Steamboat powerslams him and gets two. He hits his a double chop to the head and another two count. Blanchard swings at Steamboat and misses. Steamboat spits in Blanchard’s face and hits a swinging neckbreaker. Two count. Suplex by Steamboat. Two count. Blanchard is busted open and bleeding outside the ring ropes. Steamboat goes to suplex him back in but Blanchard hits him with some sort of object and then NEARLY gets a pin following a cross body. Steamboat tries a punch but misses. Blanchard goes for a Superplex but Steamboat knocks him off and hits a crossbody! Two count! Steamboat goes off the ropes and tries a Sunset Flip but Blanchard gets something out of his tights and decks Steamboat, getting the pin.
WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: Tully Blanchard via cheating
GRADE: C-. Disjointed and another disappointing finish. I get that villains have to act like villains but does every heel have to win by cheating? Blanchard got maybe two moves and nailed Steamboat with an object to win this? Terrible booking. Steamboat deserved better than this. It’s no wonder he left.

  • Steamboat would leave the NWA, shortly following Starrcade ’84, over differences with Dusty Rhodes in regards to booking. He was signed to the WWF the following year.

Post-match, Solie and Caudle analyze like pimps.

MATCH #10: “Superstar” Billy Graham (challenger) vs. Wahoo McDaniel (champion) for the NWA United States Championship
The two guys just tease one another for the first minute and then it’s a Test of Strength which Wahoo gets the most of. Graham keeps shoving Wahoo back into the buckle several times until Wahoo hits an eye rake. He chops at Graham until Graham puts Wahoo in the Full Nelson. This lasts about 30 seconds as Wahoo gets to the ropes. Graham hits a chop off the rope and another Full Nelson. Wahoo gets out but gets elbowed by Graham. Graham goes for a shoulderblock and then runs at Wahoo again who gets a chop and pin.
GRADE: F. This cannot possibly get worse.

Analysis and filler time during a “ten minute intermission”. We get highlights of last year’s big match and then an interview with Joe Fraizer and probably a buncha other stuff I didn’t see because I’m not sitting through 8 promos.

MATCH #11: “American Dream” Dusty Rhodes (challenger) vs. Ric Flair (champion) for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship and $1 Million Dollars with Joe Fraizer as the Special Guest Referee
Either the WWE Network is adding in their own audio or Dusty just came out to smooth R&B circa 1990’s Smooth Jazz Radio. Flair comes out next. The match starts with headlock hell from Dusty. Flair briefly gets some offense but another headlock is applied. Flair gets out and tosses Rhodes into the ropes but Rhodes clotheslines him. Flair beats him in the corner and then his a knee lift after a snap mare. Flair continues to his offense but misses a knee lift and Rhodes hits a Figure Four immediately and Flair manages to drag Rhodes to the ropes. Rhodes goes after Flair’s leg but Flair turns it around and gets out of it, favoring his right leg. Flair tries a wrist lock but Dusty turns it around and works on Flair’s arm, backing him into a corner. Flair gets out of it but Rhodes slams him. Rhodes hits a Bionic Elbow but Flair comes back with chops. Rhodes retaliates with shots to the head and then tosses Flair to the buckle and out of the ring. Dusty suplexes Flair into the ring and Fraizer gives slow two count. The two men trade chops and Rhodes hits a shoulderblock. Flair comes back with a chop. He goes for the top rope but Rhodes throws him off the turnbuckle to the mat. Flair tries to punch Rhodes but Rhodes blocks and punches Flair. Flair hits a Sleeper but Rhodes gets to the ropes where he dumps Flair out of the ring. Flair gets to his feet and drags Rhodes outside where he slams Rhodes into the post. Rhodes gets up, looking hurt. Fraizer backs Flair into a corner. Rhodes has a cut above his eye. Fraizer checks the eye. Flair goes after Rhodes in the corner and lands punches after knocking him down. Rhodes comes back and hits an elbow on Flair. Flair comes back and elbows Rhodes in the face. Fraizer checks Rhodes’ eye again but Flair beats the shit ouf of Rhodes. Rhodes comes back and it’s a brawl. Fraizer gets between them and calls for the bell…and then awards the match to FLAIR?! THE HELL?!
GRADE: D+. Wow. A great match stopped because of BLEEDING? There were four other guys with bloody faces. This was just terrible booking AGAIN.

Post-match, Dusty and Flair wanna go at it but wrestlers from the back hold Dusty back. They put a towel around the cut and he’s taken from the ring.

Solie and Caudle talk about what they just saw and run replays. The place empties out in the most depressing manner.

Tony Schiavone is backstage with Manny Fernandez. Dusty yells at Joe Fraizer and then it’s a retrospective of the action. They could have shown a dog taking a shit for three minutes and that would be the same.

OVERALL: I can’t think of a single match I’d watch again. D-.

That’s it.

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