THIS RETRO BUSINESS: NWA Starrcade ’85 – The Gathering – November 28, 1985

Jim Crockett Promotions did something cool here: their big Starrcade event would be broadcast from TWO locations, not just one.
The main event would, once again, be Dusty Rhodes vs. Ric Flair for the World Championship.
Let’s get it going…
The show opens with rock music, a roaring crowd and light…refracted from a Disco ball on the ceiling. Ah, the 80’s…the production is a little better and put together well.
We are LIVE from the site of the last two Starrcade events: the good ol’ Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, NC for the first half of Starrcade ’85!”
Your hosts are Bob Caudle and Tony Schiavone. They hold mics from The Price is Right and Schiavone’s got a bro-stache because he’s a MAN, not a boy. Schiavone’s backstage spot’s been taken by former wrestler, Johnny Weaver who will have interviews. Backstage. With wrestlers. Which is, apparently, something Schiavone still thinks is really cool.
Tom Miller is, once again, our ring announcer. He welcomes us to Starrcade ’85: THE QUICKENING THE GATHERING!
We get the National Anthem and we are off and running!
MATCH #1: Krusher Khruschev (challenger) vs. Sam Houston (challenger) for the vacant NWA Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Championship
Early lock-ups are a stalemate as both manage to shove each other away. It goes to a quick brawl and we reset. Krusher lifts Houston off his feet by his neck and slams him down but misses his follow-up. Houston back up again runs into a back drop attempt but lands on his feet and shoves Krusher into the corner. Houston puts Krusher in a headlock but Krusher tosses Houston into the ropes and it’s a bunch of running around. Krusher tries a hip toss but Houston reverses and tries his own. Krusher is too big and won’t go, so Houston hits Head Scissors instead and brings Krusher down. Krusher gets Houston into the corner and then charges but Krusher kicks him away and hits a dropkick, working on his arm right after that. Krusher gets out of it and sends Houston into the ropes, lifts him up and lets him fall, face-first, into the mat. Krusher chops at Houston and pins him for two. He picks Houston up and hits a HUGE Press Slam. He tosses Houston into the ropes again. Houston slides under his legs but Krusher just belts him in the face and Houston’s down again as Schiavone says “all Houston has to do is block out the pain”. Houston gets caught in a bear hug but breaks out, goes off the ropes and kicks Krusher in the head. Krusher slams Houston in the middle of the ring and goes to the top rope but Houston gets up and dropkicks him off. Houston punches him in the corner and then goes to the other corner for a Bulldog and hits it. Houston pins but Krusher put his foot on the rope. Houston jumps up, believing he’s won. Krusher gets up and hits him with the Russian Sickle and gets the win and the title. Houston got his foot on the ropes but the ref didn’t see it.
WINNER AND NEW CHAMPION: Khruschev via Sickle
GRADE: B-. A clean match with no blood in the NWA?! What madness is this???
There’s a replay and that’s it. Either Schiavone and Caudle have been kidnapped or they’re just not into talking much.
Next match…which is live from The Omni in Atlanta Georgia!
MATCH #2: Abdullah the Butcher (w/ Paul Jones) vs. “Ragin’ Bull” Manny Fernandez in a Mexican Death Match
There’s no DQ or any stoppage. Blood won’t stop things. No pinfall or submission. The only way to win this EXTREME DEATH MATCH IS TO…uh…climb a pole and grab a Sombrero? Ok…in any case, this was ahead of its time. This was the “ladder match” before there was a “ladder match”. Butcher all over Manny to start and he gets cut open in like five seconds. It’s hard to get excited for Manny’s matches or even to take him seriously when he’s dressed like Edward James Olmos on his day off. Dude’s in jeans and a tank top like he’s going to buy lumber at the Home Depot. Anyway, he finally fights back after an initial push, using the claw on Butcher, cutting him open, too, AND THEN MONKEY FLIPS HIM!!! Manny takes his boot off and starts belting Butcher with it. Butcher bleeds profusely and the crowd is practically horny over it. Butcher grabs the boot and decks Fernandez and then goes to get the Sombrero but Fernandez knocks him off the buckle. Fernandez takes off his belt and uses that now. Butcher stops the blows and kicks at Fernandez. He headbutts Fernandez, knocking him down. He goes for a big running elbow drop but takes too long and Fernandez moves out of the way. Fernandez gets to his feet and hits a running clothesline, knocking Butcher into the ropes. Fernandez keeps using the belt and then goes for a suplex…AND HOLY SHIT, HE HITS IT. Fernandez gets up and climbs the buckle and tries for the SOMBRERO OF DEATHINESS but Butcher hits him in the nuts, knocking him off the buckle. Butcher tries for a clothesline and misses. Fernandez hits the Flying Forearm on the counter! Butcher wavers but isn’t down…so Fernandez hits one off the top rope. He tries for a frog splash but misses completely. Butcher gets to his feet and tosses Fernandez into the ropes and tries for a spear but misses and Manny climbs over him to grab the Sombrero for the win!
WINNER: Manny Fernandez
GRADE: B+. This was fun match to watch. Blood really wasn’t necessary, tho. 
  • Butcher took a hiatus from the NWA and wrestled in Japan before returning to the WCW in 1991.
Johnny Weaver is backstage with Krusher Khruschev who has no Russian accent. Weaver seems almost baffled by this as the interview rolls on. Weaver stumbles all over his words as he introduces the next match
It’s back to Greensboro!
MATCH #3: Black Bart (w/ J.J. Dillon) vs. “Cowboy” Ron Bass in a Texas Bullrope Match (if Bass wins, he gets to face Dillon)
Bass and Bart are connected to one another via long “Bull Rope”. Bass uses a cowbell to cut Bart open. Bass uses the rope to choke Bart and then they exchange punches in the corner. Bass manages to knock Bart down and then punches him with the cowbell a few more times for good measure. Bart turns things around and grabs the bell from Bass, then starts punching him with it and returns the blood favor by cutting him open as Schiavone says something to Bob Caudle who doesn’t answer at all. Bass gets the bell back and it’s more punching as this match goes on far too long. There’s no heat. The crowd is dead as hell and only a chosen few burst into cheers here and there. Bart tries to hit Bass really hard with a running start but Bass tosses him over the ropes and out of the ring. Bass leaps off the mat and hits Bart on the head with the bell and this match drags on…back in the ring, Bass punches some more using the rope to hold Bart in place. Bass pins…but only gets two. Jesus christ…just end this. Bart tosses Bass into the ropes and then they collide and both men are down because this match needed to be longer. Bart gets up and tries to axehandle Bass but misses. Bass gets up and clocks Bart, then uses the rope to trip Bart. Bass knocks Bart down with the bell again but STILL can’t get the pin. MORE PUNCHING. Finally, Bass goes to the top rope and whacks Bart with the bell and it’s finally over.
GRADE: F. Needed more cowbell.
MATCH #4: J.J. Dillon (w/ Black Bart) vs. “Cowboy” Ron Bass in a Texas Bullrope Match
Dillon is in the match IMMEDIATELY, ripping off his shirt and OMG I’M BLIND. He jumps Bass, punching him with the bell and choking him with the rope. Bass fights back and uses the rope to pull him down. Bass nails Dillon with the Cowbell of Doom and Dillon’s cut open because we need more blood. The ref is down so Bart comes in and hits a piledriver and then puts Dillon on top of Bass. The ref miraculously wakes up and Dillon gets the win.
WINNER: Dillon
GRADE: F. No payoff whatsoever. 
  • Ron Heard (AKA Ron Bass) took a year off at the end of 1985 and signed with the WWF in 1987.
  • Rick Harris (AKA Black Bart) worked for NWA/WCW, alternating with WCCW. He’d sign with the WWF in 1990 but only worked as a Jobber to the Stars. He returned to the WCW in 1991.
And it’s on to the next match at The Omni…
MATCH #5: The Barbarian (w/ Paul Jones) vs. “Superstar” Billy Graham in an Arm Wrestling Match
Graham poses and Jones checks out the table. Graham wins the thing after a struggle.
WINNER: Graham
GRADE: F. It’s Arm Wrestling. I didn’t pay to watch an arm-wrestling match. I paid to watch wrestling.
MATCH #6: The Barbarian (w/ Paul Jones) vs. “Superstar” Billy Graham
Now it’s a match. Barbarian starts the beating and goes to the top rope for the Flying Headbutt but misses. Surprise, surprise, Graham’s cut open. He hits the bear hug on Barbarian. Jones comes in and hits Graham with the cane I guess it’s a DQ.
WINNER: Graham via DQ
GRADE: F. I seriously hope this isn’t a streak.
Post-match, Graham grabs Jones’ cane and whacks him but The Barbarian attacks and the fight spills outside. The Barbarian stops attacking and Graham is declared the winner.
  • Graham was in the twilight of his career here. He signed with the WWF after this.

Back to Greensboro for the next match…

MATCH #7: “Nature Boy” Buddy Landel (challenger) (w/ J.J. Dillon) vs. Terry Taylor (champion) for the NWA National Championship
What the living fuck is a “National Championship”? How many championships did the NWA have? The two start out grappling until Taylor shoves out of it in the corner and gets in Landel’s face. The same thing happens and Taylor shoves Landel to the mat. Landel hits an armbar but Taylor counters with an arm drag. There’s some countering back and forth for the first few minutes until Landel hits a side headlock. Bob Caudle’s mic supposedly works again and he inserts some commentary in this match. Taylor comes back, trying to pin Landel to no avail. Finally, both men are up and Landel hits some Flair chops and tries to charge Taylor in the corner but runs into Taylor’s boot. Taylor hits a backdrop and knee drop and covers for two. Taylor hits a wristlock but Landel just freakin’ CLOCKS Taylor in the head. Wow. He stomps at Taylor and then puts him in a headlock as Dillon finally, hilariously shows up at ringside with a bandaged head, screaming at Landel, saying he would “never let him down”. Taylor counters with a side suplex and backbreaker, then a leg drop and gets two as Landel gets his foot on the ropes. Taylor slaps at Landel but Landel tosses Taylor into the ropes and hits a HUGE clothesline along with a CLOSE two count. Taylor comes back with a small package pin but Landel kicks out and immediately locks in a Camel Clutch. Taylor finally kicks out, sending Landel into the corner and starts in with some corner punches and kicks. Taylor stands on Landel’s face (fucking ouch) and then suplexes him. He gets two and it’s back to work in the corner. He rams Landel’s head into the buckle but Dillon tosses Landel an object which he uses to clock Taylor who bumps the ref. Both men come to but Landel tosses Taylor into the ref again and tries to use a shoe to whack Taylor. Taylor reverses and tosses Landel into Dillon! Taylor goes for the Superplex but Dillon reaches up as Taylor falls back and Landel falls on top of Taylor. Landel gets the pin.
WINNER AND NEW CHAMPION: Buddy Landel via pinfall
GRADE: B-. Well-wrestled but the constant dirty managerial finishes are so horribly executed, they take away from the match. On top of that, is there a reason why Landel wasn’t DQ’ed for an intentional ref bump near the end? It seems like that was kinda botched.

  • Landel had a HUGE falling out with the promotion and wasn’t seen in the NWA again until 1990.

Back to the Omni…

MATCH #8: The Minnesota Wrecking Crew (Arn & Ole Anderson) (champions) vs. NWA United States Heavyweight Tag Team Champions Wahoo McDaniels & Billy Jack Haynes (challengers) for the NWA National Tag Team Championship
Look at all that above you. We had a World Tag Team Championship, a “National” Tag Team Championship, and an “American” Tag Team Championship. Doesn’t “World” emobdy “National” AND “American”? Hell, doesn’t “National” swallow “American”? I just…nevermind…let’s move on. The match was ONLY for the “National” title here. Billy starts with Arn who gets picked up and press slammed. Ole tags in and the two brawl but Haynes gets the best of it, knocking down Ole and tagging in Wahoo. Ole tags Arn and it’s on. They lock up and Arn throws a punch but Wahoo blocks and throws his own and Arn goes down. Wahoo hits a snap mare but Arn hits head scissors on Ole. Wahoo manages to break free and we reset and go again. Arn tags in Ole and Ole hits a snap mare and armbar. He tags in Arn who puts Wahoo to the mat and continues to work on his arm. Wahoo makes his way up but Arn tags Ole who slams Wahoo and the two continue to work on Wahoo. After a short brawl involving Haynes, Arn is tagged back in but Wahoo chops out of his arm bar. Wahoo escapes and the hot tag is made to Haynes who beats on both Andersons. Haynes picks up Arn and headbutts him. After order is restored, Arn and Haynes beat on each other and Haynes tags Wahoo who hits a chop on Arn and NEARLY gets the win. Ole saves the match and trips Wahoo on the next run. Arn only gets two and Wahoo goes back to work in the Anderson corner. Ole reaches in again and trips Wahoo and holds his leg and Arn gets the pin.
WINNER AND NEW CHAMPIONS: Arn & Ole Anderson via cheating
GRADE: D+. That was unskilled, clunky and boring…and another terrible finish. Go figure.

  • Haynes left the NWA at the year’s end and signed with the WWF.

Johnny Weaver is backstage with J.J. Dillon and Buddy Landel. Dillon does the talking while Buddy looks smug and looks like he’s checking himself out in a mirror. Dillon says Landel will be the champ for a long time. Buddy says he’s been studying the greats and he will be champion no matter how you look at it.

Back to Greensboro…

MATCH #9: Magnum T.A. (challenger) vs. Tully Blanchard (champion) (w/ Baby Doll) in an “I Quit” Match in a Steel Cage for the NWA United States Heavyweight Championship
The only way to win is to make your opponent say “I QUIT” into the mic at ringside. Blanchard grabs a hold of Magnum but Magnum kicks out of his hold. The two trade hard punches with Magnum knocking Blanchard outside the ropes near the cage. Magnum rubs Blanchard’s face into the cage but Blanchard comes back, flying into the ring with an axehandle. Blanchard picks Magnum up and tosses him into the cage, then puts him in a chinlock. Magnum breaks out but Blanchard just shoves him and Magnum ends up hanging on the ropes. He charges at Magnum who stands up and press slams him, dropping Blanchard’s neck on the ropes. We go back to trading punches until Blanchard throws Magnum into the cage. Both men go down and then get to their feet and Magnum tosses Blanchard into the case a couple times. Magnum is bleeding as is Blanchard who is worse off than Magnum. Magnum tries to get Blanchard to say he quits but Blanchard headbutts him in the stomach and punches Magnum in the head. Blanchard brings the mic over and tries to get Magnum to say he quits but he won’t. So Blanchard belts him in the head with the mic repeatedly. Magnum still won’t give up then goes for a pin, forgetting there’s no pinfall. Blanchard, instead, picks Magnum up and drops him on the cage. Blanchard climbs the ropes and hits a clothesline on Magnum. He grabs the mic and tells Magnum to quit but Magnum won’t do it. Blanchard uses the mic some more but misses an elbow and Magnum’s up on his feet, punching Blanchard. He grabs the mic but Blanchard won’t quit. He continues to belt Blanchard with the mic but Blanchard just cries out in pain and Baby Doll can barely watch. Both men are on the floor, rolling around, putting fingers in each other’s cuts. Damn…Blanchard belts Magnum and Magnum retaliates. Blanchard goes down and Magnum grabs the mic…but, again, Blanchard won’t quit. Blanchard’s in the corner now so Magnum climbs up and goes to beat on him…but Blanchard hits an Atomic Drop and tells Magnum to quit. He won’t. Blanchard continues to beat on Magnum who just lays there. Blanchard drops elbows and then gets up and tosses the ref into the cage because reasons. Blanchard gets a chair and smashes it to bits. He takes a sharp, jagged piece of the broken chair and tries to STAB Magnum. Holy shit. Magnum blocks it and starts kicking out of the attempt to beat him. HE TAKES A PIECE AND STABS IT INTO BLANCHARD AND BLANCHARD QUITS! Holy shit…
GRADE: A-. Brutal as hell with no real skill but, DAMN, that had intensity.

Post-match, Magnum grabs the belt and walks off as Baby Doll comes into the ring to comfort Blanchard.

  • Terry Allen (AKA Magnum T.A.) was with the NWA until mid-1986. In October of 1986, he was driving in his car, in the rain, lost control and wrapped it around a telephone pole. Allen was trapped in the car for two full hours before somebody called it into 911. He was rushed to the hospital where it was found that his C-4 and C-5 vertebrae had both “exploded”. His entire right side was paralyzed for months following the accident and he was forced to retire from professional wrestling. His last match was three months before this in July of the same year. He resurfaced in 1987 and, with the help of a cane, was able to congratulate Dusty Rhodes in a match. He has also worked as a commentator for WCW. He has made several guest appearances as a corner man for a few wrestlers but has not wrestled since 1986. He owns a hedge fund business and currently lives with his wife and six children in North Carolina.

Back to The Omni…

MATCH #10: The Midnight Express (Bobby Eaton & Dennis Condrey) (w/ Jim Cornette) vs. Jimmy Valiant & Ms. Atlanta Lively (w/ Big Mama) in an Atlanta Street Fight
All hell breaks loose as Atlanta goes after one of the Express with powder and a rope or something. Valiant is outside with one of the others and dings him with a chair and busted him open. This is mainly a brawl with no rules. The Midnight Express wrestles in tuxedos. Valiant beats on Eaton outside, tossing him near the crowd, past the railing. He gets back in the ring and works over Condrey. Valiant hits a Sleeper on Dennis. Bobby is busted open by a chain carried by Atlanta. There’s powder everywhere, tossed around into Valiant’s eyes and just about everywhere. Waist belts are used and this is just pure chaos. The boys eject Valiant from the ring, busting him open eventually and just beat on Atlanta. The ref takes a bump and there’s just shit all over the ring. It ends with Lively saving Valiant from a splash off the ropes by decking Eaton and pinning him.
WINNER: Valiant & Lively via pinfall
GRADE: C+. Typical Gimmick Match. I’ve seen worse. It didn’t go on long and was fun in spots.

Post-match, the faces undress Jim Cornette but the Express rescues him before they can do any damage.

Jimmy Weaver has Magnum T.A. backstage. Magnum says that the title he just won is “the most prestigious title in the world — except for the World Heavyweight Title.” Way to sell the importance, Terry. 🙂

Back to Greensboro for that arena’s Main Event…

MATCH #11: The Rock n’ Roll Express (Ricky Morton & Robert Gibson) (challengers) (w/ Don Kernodle) vs. Ivan & Nikita Koloff (champions) (w/ Krusher Khruschev in a Steel Cage Match for the NWA World Tag Team Championship
From one Express to another. This Express looks like The Rockers. A lot like them. I know The Rockers were doing their thing in the same league around the same time…anyhow, Nikita starts with Ricky who he just shoves away and shoulderblocks to show his power. Ricky comes back qith a quick dropkick. Ivan hits the ring but Ricky’s hip to that and we’re back to one on one. Ivan is tagged in and Ricky hits a cross body as Schiavone would rather plug next year’s Starrcade. Ricky slams Nikita’s face in the cage (which wasn’t hard enough since Nikita isn’t cut open) and tags Robert. He gets in his licks, then it’s a series of quick tags. Gibson works Ivan, using the fence as a weapon. Then it’s Morton tagging in and he flies off the ropes with a single axehandle. Gibson is tagged in but Ivan subdues him and tags Nikita. Gibson takes over and goes to the ropes but flies into a bearhug and then Nikita just drops him, face-first into the cage. Ivan and Nikita start using the cage as a weapon as Nikita slams Gibson and taunts Morton, causing him to jump into the match and distract the ref so they can double team Gibson. Schiavone keeps reminding us that it’s a NO-DQ MATCH. So why the fuck is the referee coming down on the jump-ins and why do the Russians need to distract the ref? Gibson is busted open as Nikita puts a Sleeper on him. Gibson nearly gets pinned near the heel corner and starts fighting back, finally hitting a drop kick and getting a hot tag on Morton. But Nikita attacks him and then beats up on Gibson and places Ivan on top of him but the ref takes a bump and can’t count the pin. Finally, Morton and Gibson gang up on Ivan and, in the chaos, Gibson rolls Ivans up for the win and titles.
WINNERS AND NEW CHAMPIONS: The Rock n’ Roll Express via Roll-up
GRADE: B-. Well worked but this was No-DQ…so why did we even have a ref here, enforcing the rules?

Post-match, Krusher gets in there and they kick the shit out of Don Kernodle the R&R Express. Everyone fucking bleeds all over the place and the match ends on kinduva down note.

We go to The Omni for the main event…

MATCH #12: Dusty Rhodes (challenger) vs. Ric Flair (champion) for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship
Dusty wobbles in the entry way and actually looks like he lost some weight. Flair is out next. Dusty and Flair glare at one another…and then Dusty struts as Flair just looks at him. They lock up and then trade punches in the corner with Dusty shucking and jiving. He knocks Flair down and struts as Flair takes a walk outside the ring. Flair gets back in and starts hitting punches but Dusty comes back with punches and a couple Bionic Elbows. Flair leaves the ring again to take a breather, then gets back in. He tells Dusty to “come at him, bro”. They lock up and reverse each other’s holds until Dusty hits an arm lock and puts Flair down to the mat. Flair manages to get to the ropes and we reset. Test of Strength starts, then breaks and Flair hits Flair Chops in the corner. He gets Rhodes down on the mat and drops a knee, getting a one count. Rhodes rolls out of the ring this time and he walks off an injury. Rhodes gets back on the mat and Flair attacks but Dusty blocks and hits some elbows. He pulls Flair, by his legs, into the center of the ring and then locks up Flair’s knee, bending it out of shape. He gets up and drops an elbow, then hits the same leg lock but Flair rakes Dusty’s eyes. Flair tries a suplex but Dusty puts his weight on and Flair is the one that ends up in the suplex instead. Another leglock but Flair gets out and hits a Sleeper after whipping Dusty into the ropes. Dusty struggles and then drops to his knees and Flair’s face hits the buckle. Rhodes goes outside and then wraps Flair’s knee around the ring post, then elbows at it.

Halfway point in the match hits and Dusty chops Flair in the corner, slams him and then misses an elbow drop. Flair climbs the ropes to attack but Dusty gets up and press slams him to the mat. Dusty looks like he’s about to hit the Figure Four but Flair kicks out of it. Dusty goes down in a heap and favors his ankle. Flair pulls him up and chops him, then NEARLY puts Dusty in the Figure Four but Dusty kicks out. Flair tries again but Dusty kicks out again. Flair comes back, stomping at Dusty. Flair picks him up and puts him in the corner but Dusty fights out. Flair into the corner now and the two trade punches before Dusty tosses Flair into the buckle and out of the ring. Dusty punches at Flair and gets back in the ring. Flair is (surprise, surprise) busted open. He gets back in the ring but Flair dumps Dusty — nearly on the announce table which was pretty much right next to the ring in those days. Flair turns his back and Dusty climbs the top rope and hits a cross body when Flair comes back to the side of the ring where Dusty fell out. He gets a two count because he was out of position. Dusty continues to pound on Flair with punches and elbows, then climbs on Flair in the corner and beats on him. Flair falls on his face and Dusty can taste it. He punches at Flair and Flair begs off, scooting into the corner. Flair does his famous turnbuckle flip to failed top rope attack and then Dusty goes for a boot and misses. He goes down and Flair starts stomping at his leg. Flair drops a knee in the middle of the ring.

Flair gets cocky and slaps at Dusty…then puts on The Figure Four. Dusty rests on his back but each time he does, the ref counts. Dusty tries to turn the Figure Four over and finally does and Flair’s in pain. Flair lets go and both men get to their feet. Flair hits some more chops and Dusty starts no-selling after a dozen of them. He comes back with punches on Flair and then hits a clothesline off of a rope run. Close two count. The ref takes a slight bump after the kick-out and Dusty accidentally tosses the ref out of the ring and out on the floor. Dusty puts Flair in the Figure Four but there’s no ref. Suddenly, Arn Anderson comes in the ring and Dusty knocks him out of the ring. Ole comes down and knocks Dusty out, then scrams. The ref comes back to life and into the ring and counts…1…2…DUSTY KICKS OUT. Flair goes back to attack and Dusty counters with a Small Package pin and gets the win!
WINNER AND NEW CHAMPION: Dusty Rhodes via small package pin
GRADE: A-. This was what Starrcade ’84’s match should have been.

Post-match, a ton of NWA guys come in to celebrate with Dusty.

Backstage, Dusty is with Tony Schiavone. The face wrestlers pour champagne on him.

Schaivone and Caudle close us out by proclaiming that “Dusty will be champion for a long, long time.”


OVERALL: B+. This was pretty enjoyable. MUCH better than the last one.

That’s it…

Leave a Reply